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A. J. GRIEVE, M.A., B.D. 


















SCR1PTVRE.- - ^ 




byj M DENT- -CO 

Main Lib. 





IN February 1856, when Arthur Penrhyn Stanley had been 
Canon of Canterbury for nearly five years, he had published his 
Memorials of Canterbury (1854), a Commentary on the Epistles to 
the Corinthians (1855), and had just completed his Sinai and 
Palestine^ the fruit of his travels in those regions in 1852-53. And 
accordingly we find him writing to his friend Hugh Pearson to say 
that the remaining work of his life would be either a history of the 
chosen people, or a history of early Christianity, beginning from 
the earliest times and continuing as late as possible. He was 
enabled to carry out both these projects in a way which he could 
not have foreseen at the time of writing ; for in December of the 
same year he was appointed Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical 
History at Oxford. His biographer tells us that on the morning 
after he had accepted the appointment he burst into his mother's 
room exclaiming, " I have settled my first course. I shall begin 
with Abraham ; he is the true beginning of ecclesiastical history." 
A few days later he is writing again to Pearson outlining the plan 
that was afterwards matured in the Lectures on the Eastern 
Church. In February 1857, he delivered, with striking success, 
as his inaugural course, the lectures comprised under the title 
"Introduction" in this volume. They deal respectively with the 
" province," the " methods," and the " advantages " of the study of 
Church History, and there can be no better introduction to the 
subject for any student than these three discourses taken together 
with Bishop Collins's little hand-book, and an article by Dr. Harnack 
in The Contemporary Review for August 1886. We shall see also 
that these lectures are no less significant of Stanley himself than 
helpful to his readers. 

In the long vacation of 1857 just fifty years ago Stanley set 
out from- Canterbury (where he continued to reside until a death in 
February 1858 placed at his disposal a canonry in Christ Church, 
Oxford), together with two young comrades and a courier named 
Djarlieb, whose performance did not equal his promise. After a 
short stay in Sweden, where Stanley was much struck by the 
gorgeous vestments worn by Lutheran ministers, the little party 
went on to Helsingfors and St. Petersburg, the professor being 


viii Editor's Note 

anxious to study at first hand the history of the Greek Church. 
His task was difficult, for he was ignorant of the language, and 
unable, even through the medium of one interpreter after another, 
to grip the significance of the abundant symbolism and ceremony 
that everywhere met him. At length, however, he found " 1'homme 
pre'cieux," Michael Sukatin, one of the imperial judges ; to whose 
kindness and invaluable help he bears generous testimony in his 
letters. Through Sukatin he gained personal interviews with such 
high authorities as Philaret, the Metropolitan of Moscow, and 
what had threatened to be a somewhat barren pilgrimage became 
a joyous and fruitful quest. The lateness of the season unfortun- 
ately prevented the party from going beyond Moscow to Kieff, 
and the "higher critic" may possibly on that account discern a 
something lacking in the story of the conversion of the Slavonic 
races (Lecture IX.) as compared with the narrative of the later 
history of the Russian Church, which gathers round Moscow and 
the Troitza monastery with the names of Sergius, Ivan the 
Terrible and Nicon, and then round St. Petersburg and Peter the 
Great. Stanley reached home in the second week of October, 
and the lectures were delivered no long time afterwards. They 
had, however, to wait for publication till March 1861, when they 
saw the light through the " Sturm und Drang " of the Essays and 
Reviews controversy, into which Stanley had flung himself with all 
the ardour of his chivalrous, catholic and sensible spirit. 

The whole work as we have it is in many ways our best memorial 
of the great Dean. On the one hand the lectures on the Eastern 
Church are significant of his method. Though not so finished and 
elaborate as Sinai and Palestine^ or so personal and intimate as 
the Memorials of Canterbury, he has made the dry bones live, and 
the ikons and relics of the Greek Church become in his hands as 
eloquent as the mummies and the papyri of Memphis under the spell 
of our modern Egyptologists. And this vital, humanizing attainment 
was, as his biographer points out, achieved " by methods which 
were essentially part of himself. So far as was possible the history 
was studied on the exact spot, and the appropriate atmosphere, 
the local colour, the life-like details, are reproduced with picturesque 
power. The relics of the past are treated as living human spirits, 
or as the instruments of living human spirits, whose influence is at 
work on all sides around us for our own and for all future ages. 
Every similarity, contrast, or analogy, with whatever is most 
familiar in our own institutions or life, is noted, so that new ideas 
may be brought home to the most ordinary understanding. No 

Editor's Note ix 

effort is made to drag the reader over the whole field of Church 
History ; the lesser events are only touched upon so as to preserve 
the thread of continuity; the leading persons, the important 
scenes, the critical stages, are studied in all the detail which is 
possible, and stand out in overwhelming prominence by the 
effacement of subordinate occurrences." Of this method of treat- 
ment the lectures on the Council of Nicasa especially furnish 
several striking examples. 

On the other hand, the lectures, and especially the introductory 
ones, are indicative of the temper of the man. 

His successor, Dean Bradley, whose delightful Recollections of 
Dean Stanley are themselves a tribute of perfection, points out 
how, read in the light of his later works and letters, the intro- 
ductory lectures " embody his whole views, his whole life, his whole 
self." Mark his characteristic determination (p. 6) to begin his 
story not with the Reformation or the Papacy or the Fathers, 
but with the first dawn of the history of the Church in Ur of 
the Chaldees ; and his equally characteristic protest against the 
narrowing and depreciatory process by which a great theological 
term like " church " has come to connote " not the whole congrega- 
tion of faithful men dispersed throughout the world, but a priestly 
caste, a monastic order, a little sect, or a handful of opinions." 
"We cannot," said Stanley in a famous sermon preached in America, 
" safely dispense even with the churches which we most dislike and 
which in other respects have wrought most evil," and the man who 
had an eye for resemblances rather than for differences, who could 
thank Quakers, Baptists, and Presbyterians alike for their con- 
tributions to the great treasury and stream of Christian life, who 
passionately admired the great Switzer Zwingli, and upheld the 
great laymen, Louis of France, Dante of Italy, and Milton of 
England, as " the true interpreters, the true guides of the thoughts 
and feelings of their respective ages," was courageous enough both 
to begin and to conclude his first course of Regius Lectures with 
a citation from the Baptist tinker of Bedford. He half humorously 
said that when he had finished with the Greek Church and the 
Jewish^Church he would " withdraw into the Church of England," 
and the breadth of his conceptions finds apt illustration in his 
choice of the Orthodox Eastern Community as a subject. On the 
night before he left Russia he had a long talk with his friend 
Sukatin, and asked him of his hopes for the future of his Church. 
The Russian replied, " What I chiefly expect and hope for is the 
pacifying effect which will be produced on the controversies of the 

x Bibliography 

West when they come to a knowledge of a Church which has never 
entered into those controversies, which has stood firm on the basis 
of the early centuries before they rose, which has the deeply rooted 
idea of the fixed and stable character of the ancient traditions, 
without the slightest desire to proselytize." It cannot be said that 
the Western Churches, quick and avid of progress, have been 
particularly impressed or pacified by the spectacle of what with 
all its good is but a petrified Church, but we can understand how 
the hope of the Slav found an echo in the heart of the Teuton, for 
the key to Stanley's whole position as a theologian was his abiding 
and tenacious conviction " that in that virgin mine, the insufficiently 
explored records, original records, of Christianity" (and he would 
not have limited these to Holy Scripture), " there are still materials 
for a new epoch : that . . . the existing materials, principles, 
doctrines of the Christian religion are far greater than have ever 
yet been employed, and that the Christian Church, if it ever be 
permitted or enabled to use them, has a long lease of new life 
and new hope before it." 

Stanley left Oxford for Westminster in 1864. He carried with 
him, and preserved inviolate to the end this faith and this hope, of 
a new and greater future for the Church of Christ. 

A. J. G. 

The following are the works of A. P. Stanley : 

The Gypsies, Prize Poem, Oxford, 1837 ; Life and Correspondence of 
Dr. Arnold, 1844; Sermons on the Apostolic Age, 1847; Memorials of 
Canterbury, 1854 ; Commentary on the Epistles to the Corinthians, 1855 ; 
Sinai and Palestine, 1856 ; Three Introductory Lectures on the Study of 
Ecclesiastical History, 1857 ; Canterbury Sermons, 1859 ; Freedom and 
Labour (two sermons), 1860 ; Lectures on the History of the Eastern 
Church, 1861 ; Sermons in the East, 1863 ; Lectures on the History of the 
Jewish Church, three series, 1863, 1865, 1876 ; Memorials of Westminster 
Abbey, 1868 ; Essays, chiefly on questions of Church and State, 1870 ; 
Lectures on the Church of Scotland, 1872 ; Addresses and Sermons 
delivered at St. Andrews, 1877 ; Addresses and Sermons delivered in the 
United States and Canada, 1879 ; Christian Institutions, 1881. Many 
sermons and addresses published separately. 

For more recent work on the subject of these lectures, see 

(a) H. M. Gwatkin, Studies in Arianism. 

(b) P. J. Pargoire, L' Eglise Byzantine, 527-847. 

(c) A. Harnack, What is Christianity? Lects. XII and XIII. 







Description of Ecclesiastical History ..... 

I. Its first beginning ...... 

The History of Israel, the first period of the History of the 
Church ..... . 

Its peculiar interest ..... 

Its religious importance . . . . . 

II. The History of Christendom, the second period of the History 
of the Church ....... 

Relations of Civil and Ecclesiastical History . . . 

Points of contact between them . . . 

Points of divergence . . . . . 

Stages of the History of the Christian Church . . 

1. The Transition from the Church of the Apostles to the 

Church of the Fathers . . . . 

2. The Conversion of the Empire. The Eastern Church . 

3. The Invasion of the Barbarians. The Latin Church . 

4. The Reformation . . . . . 
The French, German, and English Churches . 

Conclusion. The late Professor Hussey . . . 

General Chronological Table of the Periods of Church History 





. 17 

19, 20 

20, 21 



Dryness of Ecclesiastical History 

Remedy to be found in a Historical View of the Church 
I. History of Doctrines 
II. History of Creeds and Articles . 
III. History of Events and Persons 
General Study 

Detailed Study of great Events 
The Councils 






Detailed Study of great Men . . . .26 

Neander and his History . . . .26 

Distinction of Characters . . . 27 
Uses of this Method : 

I. Gradation of Importance in Ecclesiastical 

Matters . . . . .28 
II. Combination of Civil and Ecclesiastical History 29 

III. Caution against partiality . . .29 

IV. Reference to Original Authorities . 31 

Graves of the Covenanters . . 32 

The Catacombs . . .32 

Special Opportunities for this Study 

I. In the Church of England . . -33 

II. In the University of Oxford . . 34 

III. In active Clerical life 

Conclusion .... 



I. Importance of Historical Facts in Theological Study . 

II. Importance of a General View of Ecclesiastical History 

III. Use of the Biography of Good Men 

IV. Use of the general Authority of the Church 

V. Better understanding of Differences and of Unity 
VI. Evidence rendered to the Truth of Christianity 
VII. Lessons from the Failings of the Church 
VIII. Comparison of Ecclesiastical History with the Scriptures 
IX. Future Prospect of the History of the Church . 
Indications in History 
Indications in Scripture 
Conclusion ...... 






Authorities for its History 
I. Its General Divisions 

i. The National Churches of the remote East 
(a) Chaldsean or Nestorian Churches 

Christians of S. Thomas 
(ft) The Armenians 

(c) The Syrians . 

Jacobites Maronites . 

(d) The Copts . 

The Abyssinian Church 
(i) The Georgians 



Contents xiii 

2. The Greek Church .... 

Representative of Ancient Greece 

Of early Greek Christianity 

Of the Byzantine Empire 

Constantinople ..... 
Church of Greece .... 

3. Northern Tribes ..... 

(a) Danubian Provinces. Bulgaria. Servia. Wai 

lachia and Moldavia. The Raitzen 
() The Church of Russia 
II. Historical Epochs ..... 

1. Period of the Councils .... 

2. Rise of Mahometanism .... 

3. Rise of the Russian Empire 

III. General Characteristics ..... 

1. Speculative tendency of Eastern Theology 
Rhetorical as opposed to logical . 
Philosophical as opposed to legal . 

2. Speculative tendency of Eastern Monachism 

3. The Eastern Church stationary 

In the Doctrine of the Sacraments 

Baptism ..... 
Confirmation .... 

Extreme Unction .... 
Infant Communion .... 

4. Absence of Religious Art in the East 

5. The Eastern Church not Missionary 

But not persecuting .... 

6. Eastern Theology not systematised 
7- Eastern Hierarchy not organised . 

Independence of Laity 

Study of Scripture . . . 

Absence of a Papacy 

Married Clergy .... 

IV. Advantages of a Study of the Eastern Church . 

1. Its Isolation from Western Controversy . 

2. Its competition with the Latin Church 

3. Its Illustrations of the Unity of Western Christendom 

4. Its advantages over the Western Church . 

5. Its use to the Church of England . 

Note on the Doctrine of the Single and Double Procession 



Authorities for t/ie History 

I. The Oriental Character of the Council . 
II. Its general Interest 

1. Historical Importance of Arianism 

2. Importance of the Period . 



The Nicene Council the first example of a General Council 
(a) In its deliberative Character 
(6) In its Imperial Character 
(c) In its mixed Character 
III. Peculiarities of the History 

1. Contemporary Sources 

2. Sources on both Sides 

3. The Legends 

4. The Characters 



The present appearance of Nicoea 
I. The Occasion of the Council . 

1. The Arian Controversy 

Its abstract dogmatism 

Its Polytheistic Tendencies . 

Its Vehemence 

2. Intervention of the Emperor 
II. The Selection of the Place 

Its Situation .... 
Its Name .... 

III. The Time of the Council 

IV. Its Assemblage .... 

Mode of travelling 
Numbers . 
Diversity of Characters 
V. First Place of Meeting . 

1. Alexandrian Deputies 

Alexander . 
Athanasius . 
Arius . . 

Coptic Hermits 

2. Syrian and Assyrian Deputies 

Eustathius of Antioch 

Eusebius of Csesarea . 

Macarius of Jerusalem 

Deputies from Mesopotamia and Armenia 

3. Deputies from Asia Minor and Greece 

Leontius of Cassarea . 
Eusebius of Nicomedia 
Alexander of Byzantium 
Acesius the Novatian 
Marcellus of Ancyra . 

4. Deputies from the West 

Theophilus the Goth 
The Roman Presbyters 
Hosius of Cordova . 



VI. Preliminary Discussions . 

The Theologians and the Layman 
The Philosopher and the Peasant 
Principle of Free Discussion . 





Arrival of the Emperor 

Complaints of the Bishops 

Hall of Assembly 

Entrance of Constantine 

The President .... 

His Speech . . 

The formal Opening . 

The Rebuke to the Bishops . 

Theological Divisions . 

The Thalia and Creed of Arius 

Legend of S. Nicolas . 

Creed of Eusebius of Csesarea . 

The Homoousion 

The Controversy on ousia and hypostasis 

Creed of Nicsea 

The Subscription of Eusebius of Csesarea 

of Eusebius of Nicomedia 
Banishment of Arius . 
Finality of Nicene Creed 
Broken at Chalcedon 



I. The Paschal Controversy 

1 . Decree of Settlement 

2. Paschal Table 

3. Festal Letters of Alexandria 
II. The Melitian Controversy 

III. The Canons 

Apocryphal Canons 

Reception of the Book of Judith 
Twenty Genuine Canons 

I. On Clerical Discipline 

On Provincial Councils . 
On Episcopal Ordination 
On Metropolitan Privileges 
On Jerusalem and Csesarea 
On Translation . 
On the Power of Deacons 



2. On Public Worship 

3. On Clerical Manners 

Intercourse with religious Women 
Protest of Paphnutius 

4. On cases of Conscience 


Official Letters and final Subscription 

Imperial Banquet 
Rebuke to Acesius 
Farewell of the Emperor 
Honours paid to Nicsea 
Departure of the Bishops 
Reception of the Decrees 
Legends of Rome and Constantinople 
General Conclusion : 

1. Diversity of incidents 

2. Effect of Individual Characters 

3. Contrast of Legendary and Historical Accounts 

4. Settlement of Theological Controversies 


. 184 

. 184 

. 185 

. 185 

. 187 

. 187 

. 187 

. 1 88 

. 188 

. 190 

. 190 

. 191 

. 192 

. 192 
192, 193 

. 194 
. 194 




Historical Position of Constantine 

His Appearance ..... 

His Character ...... 

I. The First Christian Emperor 

His Conversion .... 

The Battle of the Milvian Bridge 

His ambiguous Religion 

His Christian Legislation 
II. Founder of the Established Church 

His Devotion and Preaching . 
III. His last Visit to Rome .... 

Crimes of the Imperial Family 

1. Foundation of the Papal Power at Rome . 

Absolution of Hosius . 
of Sylvester . 
Donation .... 

2. Foundation of Constantinople 

Its Situation .... 
Its Importance in Ecclesiastical History 

3. Foundation of the Holy Places in Palestine 

Pilgrimage of Helena . 

4. Restoration of Arius 
Baptism and Death of Constantine 


2I 4 





Contents xvii 


ATHANASIUS. A.D. 312 372 


I. Athanasius, as representing the Church of Egypt . . 227 

His Appearance ....... 228 

His Childhood . . . . . . .228 

Archdeacon of Alexandria ... . 229 

Consecration as Bishop . ..... 230 

Importance of the See of Alexandria . . . 230 

1. Conversion of Abyssinia ..... 231 

2. Egyptian Hermits ...... 232 

3. National feeling of Egypt . . 233 

Scene of Athanasius's return to Alexandria . . 235 

II. Contests of Athanasius with the Emperor . . 236 

His Isolation, " contra mundum " .... 236 

1. Independence against the Imperial Power . . 238 

2. Personal, not Ecclesiastical, Opposition . . . 238 

3. Arian Persecution ...... 239 

Scene in the Church of S. Theonas . . . 240 

His General Character . . . . . . 241 

His Versatility . ...... 241 

His Humour . ...... 242 

Magical Reputation ...... 243 

III. Athanasius as a Theologian . ... 244 

1. Common to East and West .... 245 
Athanasian Creed ...... 245 

2. Founder of Orthodoxy ..... 245 
Polemical Vehemence ..... 246 
Defence of the Doctrine of the Incarnation . . 247 

3. Discrimination of essential and unessential . . 249 

In the Monastic Disputes .... 249 

In Clerical Discipline ..... 249 

In the Use and Disuse of the Homoousion . . 250 
In the Controversy respecting "Person" and 

"Substance" ..... 250 

Council of Alexandria. . . . . . .251 

Relations with S. Basil . . . . . .252 



Prefatory Remarks on our Knowledge of Mahometanism . . 255 

I. Its Connection with Western Churches .... 256 

II. Its Connection with Eastern Churches .... 257 

with their Rise . . . . .257 

and their Ruin ..... 257 



III. Point of Contact in History .... 

1. Christians at Mecca .... 

2. Sergius, monk of Bostra .... 

3. Apocryphal Gospels .... 

4. Christian Doctrines and Legends . 
IV. Comparison with Sacred History 

with Ecclesiastical History . 
V. The Koran Compared with the Bible 

1. Resemblances of Form .... 

2. Contrasts between them, as regards 

(a) Uniformity Variety 

(b) Narrowness Diffusion 

(c) Purity of Text Variations . 

(d) Monotony Multiplicity 

(<?) Exclusiveness Expansiveness 

VI. Comparison of the Ecclesiastical System of Monometallism 
that of the Christian Church 

1. Its Relations to Protestantism 

2. Its Relations to Catholicism 

3. Its Oriental Character .... 

In its worse and better Qualities 







Authorities ....... 

I. Importance of the Church of Russia as an Eastern Church 
II. Its Parallel with Western Christendom . 
III. Its National Character . 
Periods of its History .... 

Its Foundation, A.D. 988 -1250 . 
Missions of Constantinople 
Conversion of Russia 

1. Legendary Account S. Andrew, S. Antony 

2. Historical Account . 

Vladimir .... 
Missions to convert him . 
Mission from him to Constantinople 
The Church of S. Sophia 
Baptism of Vladimir at Cherson . 
of the Russians at Kief . 

1. Influence of Constantinople . 

2. Veneration of Sacred Pictures 

3. Effects of Authority . 

4. Translation of the Bible into Sclavonic 
Early Christian Princes of Russia 

Will of Vladimir Monomachus 

2 7 6 

Contents xix 




The Middle Ages of Russia, A. D. 1250 1613 . . . 302 

Moscow ........ 302 

I. THE CZAR .... . 304 

Cathedral of the Archangel at Moscow .... 305 

Ivan the Terrible ...... 306 

His Position in Ecclesiastical History . . . 306 
II. THE METROPOLITANS . . . . . .310 

Their general Character . . . . . 311 

Martyrdom of S. Philip ..... 312 


1. The Hermits ...... 313 

Basil Nicholas of Plescow . . . .315 

2. The Monasteries . . . . . .316 

IV. The Invasion of the Tartars, A. D. 12051472 . . .31? 

The Troitza Monastery . . . . .318 

S. Sergius ....... 319 

Battle of the Don ...... 320 

V. The Invasion of the Poles, A.D. 1606 1613 . . . 320 

Siege of the Troitza ...... 322 

Election of the Romanoff Dynasty . . . 323 



The Eastern Reformation ...... 325 

Nicon, his Career, A.D. 1652 1684 . . . . .327 

I. His Appearance and Character ..... 327 

II. His Reforms ....... 329 

Opposition to them ...... 335 

III. His Personal History ...... 338 

Friendship with the Czar Alexis .... 338 

Quarrel ....... 341 

Retirement . . . . . . -341 

Convent of the New Jerusalem .... 342 

Return . . . . . . -345 

Resignation ....... 345 

Trial ........ 346 

Exile . . . . . . . 347 

Return ....... 349 

Death and Funeral ...... 350 





His Historical Importance, A.D. 1672 1725 . 

His Appearance and Character 

His Connection with the Eastern Church 

His Religion ..... 

His Death-bed . 

His Reforms ..... 

Abolition of the Patriarchate 

The Rascolniks (Dissenters) . , 

The Starovers (Old Believers) 

Their Grievances .... 

Representatives of Old Russia 

Settlement at Moscow 
Modern State of Russian Church, A.D. 17251860 

Demetrius of Rostoff 

Ambrose of Moscow 

Plato of Moscow .... 

Innocent of Kamtschatka . 

Philaret of Moscow .... 

Professor at the Troitza Convent 

Conclusion ..... 

INDEX ..... 



THE Introduction to this volume consists of three 
Lectures delivered in the spring of 1857, when I entered upon 
my duties as Professor of Ecclesiastical History. They are 
reprinted, partly for the sake of presenting them in a more 
correct form than that in which they first appeared, partly for 
the sake of exhibiting the general plan under which will be 
comprised any special Lectures like those which form the bulk 
of the present volume. 

It is my hope, if I may look so far forward into the future, to 
fill up two of the departments indicated in the sketch of the 
first Introductory Lecture. I have already devoted a large 
share of each Academical year to Lectures on the History of 
the Jewish Church, which 1 trust at no very distant period to 
publish ; and it is my intention to appropriate at least a portion 
of my remaining time to the History of the Church of England. 

Meanwhile, it seemed to me that a course of instruction in 
the History of the Eastern Church would not be unfitting. 
The general reasons for this selection are given in the Lectures 
themselves. The subject is one in which I had long felt an 
interest, and which may, perhaps, gain from being approached 
through a point of view more general than that usually taken in 
the learned 'works that have been devoted to its consideration. 

In the choice and the treatment of epochs of Eastern History 
which appear in the following pages, I have been guided by 
the necessities of the case, as well as by the wish to exemplify 
some of the principles laid down in my Introductory Lectures. 
The. form of Lectures J lent itself to this mode of handling the 
subject; and, if the result should bear the appearance of a 
didactic ^rather than of a historical work, I have endeavoured 
to rectify this defect by the references to authorities which 
begin, and by the chronological tables which end, the volume. 

It so happens that one of these epochs (the Council of 

1 Most of the Lectures are printed (with necessary corrections and ab- 
breviations) as they were delivered. The First and Eighth are condensed 
from two courses of Lectures. 


2 -Preface 

Nicsea)i 'tiipa-gh receiving .\much attention from French and 
German writers, has never bee'ri thoroughly described by any 
English historian. In this instance, therefore, I have gone 
into every detail. I take this opportunity of mentioning some 
of the subordinate topics to which allusions have been made 
throughout the Lectures, and which might well be followed up, 
in a supplemental volume on the Church of Constantinople 
and Greece, properly so called. The Councils of Ephesus and 
Chalcedon have never, as far as I know, been described with 
all the details which could be given. The life of Chrysostom 
has never been fully told. The Iconoclastic controversy is full 
of interest for the history both of art and religion. A full 
account has yet to be given of the rupture between the Greek 
and Latin Churches, and of the attempted reconciliation in 
the council of Florence. The rise of the monastic community 
of Athos, and of the dispute on the Light of Tabor, forms 
a separate episode. The revival of the national church of 
Greece contains many germs of hope for the future. A 
continuous history of Greek theology, from its peculiarities in 
the Eastern Fathers of the third and fourth centuries, through 
the schools of Constantinople, down to its last great effort in 
the revival of letters in the West, and its influence on the 
Cambridge Platonic divines of the Church of England, and, 
through them, on John Wesley, in the eighteenth century, is 
still, I believe, a desideratum. 

In regard to the relation of Christianity to the other religions 
of the East, which must be considered as one of the most 
important branches of the subject in connection with the 
fortunes of Eastern Christendom, I have been restrained, by 
my personal ignorance of the languages and customs of most 
of those countries, from offering more than a few general 
remarks on the one most directly connected with the Christian 
Church and the Eastern branch of it, namely, Mahometanism. 
But, if I may be permitted to refer to the labours of the 
eminent scholar who has already done so much for elucidating 
in this country the nature of Oriental religions, it is to be 
hoped that Professor Max Miiller may be induced to give 
us the benefit of his genius and learning in drawing forth 
the mutual relations of the religions of Asia and the Christian 
faith to each other, in their past history and in their future 

The Lectures on the Russian Church are intended as an 
introduction to a sphere of history which probably will, in each 

Preface 3 

succeeding generation, grow in importance. If this volume 
should fall into the hands of any of those Russians whose 
hospitality I enjoyed during my stay at Moscow in 1857, I 
trust that they will pardon, not only the inaccuracies in detail 
which a stranger can hardly escape, but the divergence of the 
general point of view from which a western European must 
regard the Church and State of Russia. There is an expressive 
proverb written over the house of Archbishop Plato in the 
forests of the Troitza Convent, " Let not him who comes in here 
carry out the dirt that he finds within." If this precept is 
not altogether practicable for an impartial traveller, I can yet 
truly say that my chief impressions are those of gratitude for 
the intelligence and courtesy with which I was received, both 
among laymen and ecclesiastics. It is a pleasure to me to 
hope that those kind friends at Moscow, to whom I would 
especially commend this part of my volume, may receive it as 
a token of sincere hope and good will for their country in this 
great crisis of its social existence, and its entrance on the 
thousandth anniversary of the foundation of their Empire. 

March 6, 1861. 


THIS Edition contains a few corrections or confirmations 
supplied by a visit to Constantinople and Mount Athos in the 
summer of 1861, and to Alexandria in the spring of 1862. 




WHEN Christian the Pilgrim, in his progress towards the 
Celestial City, halted by the highway side at the Palace of 
which the name was Beautiful, he was told, that " he should 
not depart till they had shown him the rarities of that place. 
And first they had him into the study, where they showed him 
records of the greatest antiquity : " in which was "the pedigree 
of the Lord of the hill, the Son of the Ancient of Days. . . . 
Here also were more fully recorded the acts that he had done, 
and the names of many hundreds that he had taken into his 
service ; and how he had placed them in such habitations, that 
could neither by length of days nor decays of nature be dissolved. 
Then they read to him some of the worthy acts that some of 
his servants had done ; as how they had subdued kingdoms, 
wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths 
of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the 
sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in 
fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Then they 
read again in another part of the records of the house, how 
willing their Lord was to receive in his favour any, even any, 
though they in time past had offered great affronts to his person 
and proceedings. Here also were several other histories of 
other famous things, of all which Christian had a view ; as of 
things both ancient and modern, together with prophecies and 
predictions of things that have their certain accomplishment, 
both to the dread and amazement of enemies, and~ the comfort 
and solace of pilgrims." 

These, simple sentences from the familiar story of our child- 
hood, contain a true description of the subjects, method, and 
advantages of the study of Ecclesiastical History, which I now 
propose to unfold in preparation for the duties which I have 
been called to discharge. And with this object, it will be my 
endeavour in this opening Lecture to reduce to order the 
treasures which were shown to solace and cheer the Pilgrim 


6 The Province of 

on his way, by defining the limits of the province on which 
we are about to enter. 

I. First, then, where does Ecclesiastical History commence ? 
Shall we begin with the Reformation with the framework of 
religion with which we ourselves are specially concerned ? Or 
with the new birth of Christendom, properly so called, in the 
foundation of modern Europe ? Or with the close of the first 
century with the age of those to whom we accord the name 
of our " Fathers " in the Christian faith ? In a certain sense, 
each of these periods may be taken, and by different classes of 
men always will be taken, respectively, as the boundaries of the 
history of the Church. But, if we are fixing, not merely the 
accidental limits of convenience, but the true limits involved in 
the nature of the subject ; if Ecclesiastical History means the 
History of the Church of God ; if that history is one united 
whole ; if it cannot be understood without embracing within its 
range the history of the events, of the persons, of the ideas 
which have had the most lasting, the most powerful effect on 
every stage of its course; we must ascend far higher in the 
stream of time than the sixteenth, or the fifth, or the second 
century, beyond the Reformers, beyond the Popes, beyond 
the Fathers. 

.... Far in the dim distance of primeval ages, is discerned 
the first figure in the long succession which has never since 
been broken, in Ur of the Chaldees, the Patriarchal chief, 
followed by his train of slaves and retainers, surrounded by his 
herds of camels and asses, moving westward and southward, he 
knew not whither, the first Father of the universal Church, 
Abraham, the founder of the Chosen People, the Father of the 
Faithful, whose seed was to be as the sand upon the sea-shore, 
as the stars for multitude. 

Earlier manifestations doubtless there had been of faith and 
hope ; in other countries also than Mesopotamia or Palestine 
there were yearnings after a higher world. But the call of 
Abraham is the first beginning of a continuous growth ; in his 
character, in his migration, in his faith was bound up, as the 
Christian Apostle well describes, all that has since formed the 
substance and fibre of the history of the Church. 

From this point, then, we start, and from this shall be pre- 
pared to enter on the history of the people of Israel, as the true 
beginning and prototype of the Christian Church. So in old 
times it was ever held ; to the Apostolic age it could not be 
otherwise ; even Eusebius, writing for a special purpose, is 

Ecclesiastical History 7 

constrained to commence his work by going back (almost in 
the words with which I opened this Lecture) to "records of 
the greatest antiquity, showing the pedigree of the Son of the 
Ancient of Days," both divine and human ; and, in spite of the 
ever-increasing materials of later times, the elder dispensation 
has been included, actually or by implication, in some of the 
greatest works on Ecclesiastical History. So it must be in the 
nature of the case, however much, for the sake of convenience 
or perspicuity, we may divide and subdivide what is in itself 
one whole. Speaking religiously, the history of the Christian 
Church can never be separated from the life of its Divine 
Founder, and that life cannot be separated from the previous 
history, of which it was the culmination, the explanation, the 
fulfilment. Speaking philosophically, the history of the reli- 
gious thoughts and feelings of Europe cannot be understood 
without a full appreciation of the thoughts and feelings of 
that Semitic race which found their highest expression in the 
history of the Jewish nation. 

Nor is it only for the sake of a mere formal completeness 
that we must thus combine the old and the new in our histor- 
ical studies. Consider well what that history is, what a field 
it opens, what light it receives, what light it gives, by the mere 
fact of being so regarded. So far from being exempt from the 
laws of gradual progress and development to which the history 
of other nations is subject, it is the most remarkable exemplifi- 
cation of those laws. In no people does the history move 
forward in so regular a course, through beginning, middle, and 
end, as in the people of Israel. In none are the beginning, 
middle, and end so clearly distinguished, each from each. In 
none has the beginning so natural and so impressive a pre- 
paration as that formed by the age of the Patriarchs. In none 
do the various stages of the history so visibly lead the way to 
the consummation, which, however truly it may be regarded 
as the opening of a new order, is yet no less truly the end of 
the old. And nowhere does the final consummation more 
touchingly linger in the close, more solemnly break away into 
new forms and new life, than in the last traces of the effects of 
the Jewish race on the Apostolic age. 

The form, too, of the sacred books of the Old Testament 
is one of all others most attractive to the historical student. 
Out of a great variety of documents, sometimes contempor- 
aneous, sometimes posthumous, sometimes regular narratives, 
sometimes isolated fragments, is to be constructed the picture 

8 The Province of 

of events, persons, manners, most diverse. The style and 
language, of primitive abruptness, pregnant with meaning, are 
eminently suggestive. The historical annals are combined with 
rich and constant illustration, from what in secular literature 
would be called the poets and orators of the nation. There is 
everything to stimulate research, even did these remains con- 
tain no more than the merely human interest which attaches to 
the records of any great and ancient people. 

But the sons of Israel, as we all know, are much more than 
this. They are, literally, our spiritual ancestors : their imagery, 
their poetry, their very names have descended to us ; their 
hopes, their prayers, their psalms are ours. In their religious 
life we see the analogy of ours ; in the gradual, painful, yet sure 
unfolding of divine truth to them, we see the likeness of the 
same light dawning slowly on the Christian Church. They are 
truly " our ensamples." Through the reverses, the imperfec- 
tions, the sins of His ancient Church, we see how " God at 
sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past to our 
fathers," bringing out of manifold infirmity the highest of all 
blessings, as we trust that He may still, through like vicissitudes, 
to the Church of the present and to the Church of the 

Political principles, we are told, are best studied in the 
history of classical antiquity, because they are there discussed 
and illustrated with a perfect abstraction from those particular 
associations which bias our judgment in modern and domestic 
instances. And so, in a still higher degree, in the history of 
the Jewish Church, we find the principles of all religious and 
ecclesiastical parties developed, not amidst names and events 
which are themselves the subjects of vehement controversy, 
but in a narrative of acknowledged authority, free from all the 
bitterness of modern watchwords, and yet with a completeness 
and variety such as within the same compass could be found 
in no modern church or nation. 

Reproduce this history with all the detail of which it is 
capable. Recall Abraham resting under the oak of Mamre ; 
Joseph amidst the Egyptian monuments ; Moses under the 
cliffs of Horeb; Joshua brandishing his outstretched spear; 
Samuel amidst his youthful scholars ; David surrounded by 
his court and camp ; Solomon in his Eastern state ; the wild, 
romantic, solitary figure of the great Elijah ; " the goodly 
fellowship" of gifted seers, lifting up their strains of joy or 
sorrow, as they have been well described, like some great 

Ecclesiastical History 9 

tragic chorus, as kingdom after kingdom falls to ruin, as hope 
after hope dies and is revived again. Represent in all their 
distinctness the several stages of the history, in its steady 
onward advance from Egypt to Sinai, from Sinai to the 
Jordan, from the Jordan to Jerusalem, from the Law to* the 
Judges, from the Judges to the Monarchy, from the Monarchy 
to the Prophets, from the Prophets to the great event to 
which, not the Prophets only, but the yearnings of the whole 
nation had for ages borne witness. 

Let us not fear lest our reverence should be diminished by 
finding these sacred names and high aspirations under the 
garb of Bedouin chiefs and Egyptian slaves and Oriental 
kings and Syrian patriots. The contrast of the ancient inward 
spirit with the present degraded condition of the same outward 
forms is the best indication of the source whence that spirit 
came. Let us not fear lest we should, by the surpassing 
interest of the story of the elder church, be tempted to forget 
the end to which it leads us. The more we study the Jewish 
history, the more shall we feel that it is but the prelude of a 
vaster and loftier history, without which it would be itself 
unmeaning. The voice of the old dispensation is pitched in 
too loud a key for the ears of one small people. 1 The place of 
the Jewish nation is too strait for the abode of thoughts which 
want a wider room in which to dwell. The drama, as it rolls 
on through its successive stages, is too majestic to end in any- 
thing short of a divine catastrophe. 

This is a brief but necessary sketch of the first part of our 
subject. This is the ancient period of Ecclesiastical History. 
Its full treasures must be unfolded hereafter. Its accessories 
belong to other departments of study. The critical interpretation 
of the sacred books in which the history is contained falls under 
the province of General Theology and Exegesis ; the explan- 
ation of the languages in which they are written I gladly leave 
to the Professor of Hebrew and the Professor of Greek. But 
the history itself of the chosen people, from Abraham to the 
Apostles, belongs to this Chair by right ; 2 and, if health and 
strength are spared to me, shall also belong to it in fact. 

II. The fortunes, however, of the seed of Abraham after the 

1 I am indebted for this expression to a striking sermon of Professor 
Archer Butler (vol. i. p. 210). 

2 I believe that I am correct in stating that in all other European 
universities, where a Chair of Ecclesiastical History exists, the Jewish 
history falls within its province. 

B 2 

io The Province of 

flesh form but a small portion of the fortunes of his descendants 
after the spirit : they are, as I have said, but the introduction 
to the history which rises on their ruin. With the close of the 
Apostolic age the direct influence of the chosen people expires ; 
neither in religious nor in historical language can the Jewish 
race from this time forward be said to be charged with any 
divine message for the welfare of mankind. Individual in- 
stances of long endurance, of great genius, of lofty character, 
have indeed arisen amongst them in later times ; but, since the 
days when the Galilean Apostle, S. John, slept his last sleep 
under the walls of Ephesus, no son of Israel has ever exercised 
any widespread or lasting control over the general condition of 

We stand, therefore, at the close of the first century, like 
travellers on a mountain ridge, when the river which they have 
followed through the hills is about to burst forth into the wide 
plain. It is the very likeness of that world-famous view from 
the range of the Lebanon over the forest and city of Damascus. 
The stream has hitherto flowed in its narrow channel, its course 
marked by the contrast which its green strip of vegetation pre- 
sents to the desert mountains through which it descends. The 
further we advance the more remarkable does the contrast 
become ; the mountains more bare, the river-bed more rich and 
green. At last its channel is contracted to the utmost limits ; 
the cliffs on each side almost close it in ; it breaks through and 
over a wide extent, far as the eye can reach, it scatters a flood 
of vegetation and life, in the midst of which rise the towers and 
domes of the great city, the earliest and the latest type of 
human grandeur and civilisation. 

Such is the view, backwards and forwards, and beneath our 
feet, which Ecclesiastical History presents to us, as we rest on 
the grave of the last Apostle and look over the coming ages of 
our course. The Church of God is no longer confined within 
the limits of a single nation. The life and the truth, con- 
centrated up to this point within the narrow and unbending 
character of the Semitic race, have been enlarged into the 
broad, fluctuating, boundless destinies of the sons of Japheth. 
The thin stream expands and loses itself more and more in the 
vast field of the history of the world. The Christian Church 
is merely another name for Christendom; and Christendom 
soon becomes merely another name for the most civilised, the 
most powerful, the most important nations of the modem 
habitable world. 

Ecclesiastical History n 

What, then, it may be asked, is the difference henceforward 
between Civil and Ecclesiastical History? How far are the 
duties of this professorship separable from those of the Chair 
of Modern History ? 

To a great extent the two are inseparable ; they cannot be 
torn asunder without infinite loss to both. It is indeed true 
that, in common parlance, Ecclesiastical History is often con- 
fined within limits so restricted as to render such a distinction 
only too easy. Of the numerous theological terms, of which 
the original sense has been defaced, marred, and clipped by 
the base currency of the world, few have suffered so much, in 
few has "the gold become so dim, the most fine gold so 
changed," as in the word "ecclesiastical." The substantive 
from which it is derived has fallen far below its ancient 
Apostolical meaning, but the adjective " ecclesiastical " has 
fallen lower still. It has come to signify, not the religious, not 
the moral, not even the social or political interests of the 
Christian community, but often the very opposite of these 
its merely accidental, outward, ceremonial machinery. We call 
a contest for the retention or the abolition of vestments 
" ecclesiastical," not a contest for the retention or the abolition 
of the slave trade. We include in " ecclesiastical history " the 
life of the most insignificant bishop or the most wicked of 
Popes, not the life of the wisest of philosophers or the most 
Christian of kings. But such a limitation is as untenable in 
fact as it is untrue in theory. The very stones of the spiritual 
temple cry out against such a profanation of the rock from 
which they were hewn. If the Christian religion be a matter, 
not of mint, anise, and cummin, but of justice, mercy, and 
truth ; if the Christian Church be not a priestly caste, or a 
monastic order, or a little sect, or a handful of opinions, but 
" the whole congregation of faithful men, dispersed through- 
out the world ; " if the very word which of old represented the* 
chosen "people" (Xaos) is now to be found in the "laity; " if 
the Biblical usage of the phrase " Ecclesia " literally justifies 
Tertullian's definition, Ubi tres sunt laid, ibi est ecclesia ; then 
the range of the history of the Church is as wide as the 
range of the world which it was designed to penetrate, as the 
whole body which its name includes. 

By a violent effort, no doubt, the two spheres can be kept 
apart ; by a compromise, tacit or understood, the student of 
each may avoid looking the other in the face ; under special 
circumstances, the intimate relation between the course of 

12 The Province of 

Christian society and the course of human affairs may be 
forgotten or set aside. Josephus the priest may pass over 
in absolute silence the new sect which arises in Galilee to 
disturb the Jewish hierarchy. Tacitus the philosopher may 
give nothing more than a momentary glance at the miserable 
superstition of the fanatics who called themselves Christians. 
Napoleon the conqueror, when asked on the coast of Syria to 
visit the holy city, may make his haughty reply, " Jerusalem 
does not enter into the line of my operations." But this is 
not the natural nor the usual course of the greatest examples 
both in ancient and modern times. Observe the description 
of the Jewish Church by the sacred historians. Consider the 
immense difference for all future ages, if the lives of Joshua, 
David, Solomon, and Elijah had been omitted, as unworthy of 
insertion, because they did not belong to the priestly tribe ; if 
the Pentateuch had been confined to the Book of Leviticus ; if 
the Books of Kings and Chronicles had limited themselves to 
the sayings and doings of Zadok and Abiathar, or even of 
Nathan and Gad. Remember also the early chroniclers of 
Europe ; almost all of them at once the sole historians of their 
age, yet, even by purpose and profession, historians only of the 
Church. Take but one instance, the Venerable Bede. His 
' ' Ecclesiastical History of England " begins, not with the 
arrival of Augustine, but with the first dawn of British civilis- 
ation at the landing of Caesar ; and, for the period over which 
it extends, it is the sufficient and almost the only authority for 
the fortunes of the Anglo-Saxon commonwealth. 

In later times, since history has become a distinct science, 
the same testimony is still borne by the highest works of 
genius and research in this wide field. Gibbon's " Decline and 
Fall of the Roman Empire" is, in great part, however reluct- 
antly or unconsciously, the history of " the rise and progress 
of the Christian Church." His true conception of the grandeur 
of his subject extorted from him that just concession which his 
own natural prejudice would have refused ; and it was remarked 
not many years ago, by Dr. Newman, that up to that time 
England had produced no other Ecclesiastical History worthy 
of the name. This reproach has since been removed by the 
great work of Dean Milman; but it is the distinguishing 
excellence of that very history that it embraces within its vast 
circumference the whole story of mediaeval Europe. Even in 
that earlier period when the world and the Church were of 
necessity distinct and antagonistic, Arnold rightly perceived, 

Ecclesiastical History 13 

and all subsequent labours in this field tend to the same result, 
that each will be best understood when blended in the common 
history of the Empire which exercised so powerful an influence 
over the development of the Christian society within its bosom, 
whilst by that society it was itself undermined and superseded. 
And the two chief historians of France and England in recent 
times Guizot in his Lectures on French Civilisation, Macaulay 
in his English History have both strongly brought out, 
as necessary parts of their dissertations or narratives, the 
religious influences which by inferior writers of one class have 
been neglected, or by those of another class been rent from 
their natural context. 

Never let us think that we can understand the history of the 
Church apart from the history of the world, any more than 
that we can separate the interests of the clergy from the 
interests of the laity, which are the interests of the Church 
at large. 

How to adjust the relations of the two spheres to each 
other is almost as indefinite a task in history as it is in practice 
and in philosophy. In no age are they precisely the same. 
Sometimes, as in the period of the Roman Empire, the influ- 
ence of one on the other is more by contagion, by atmosphere, 
even by contrast, than by direct intercourse. Sometimes the 
main interest of religious history hangs on an institution, like 
Episcopacy ; on a war, like the Crusades ; on a person, like 
Luther. In some periods, as in the middle ages, the combin- 
ation of the secular and religious elements will be effected by 
the political or the intellectual influence of the clergy. The 
lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury and the lives of the 
Prime Ministers of England are for five hundred years almost 
indivisible. The course of European revolution for nearly a 
thousand years moves round the throne of the Papacy. Or 
again, the rise of a new power or character will, even in these 
very ages, suddenly transfer the spiritual guidance of men to 
some high-minded ruler or gifted writer, who is for the time 
the true arbiter or interpreter of the interests and the feelings 
of Christendom. In the close of the thirteenth century, it is 
not a priest or a Pope, but a king and an opponent of Popes, 
who stands forward as the acknowledged representative of the 
Christian Church in Europe ; S. Louis in France, not Gregory 
IX. at Rome. In the fourteenth century it is not a schoolman 
or a bishop that we summon before us as the best exponent of 
mediaeval Christianity; it is not the " seraphic " or the "angelic 

14 The Province of 

doctor," but the divine poet Dante, who reveals to us the feel- 
ings and thoughts of the whole age respecting this world and 
the next. And if we pass to our own country, he must be a 
blind guide who would take us through the English Reform- 
ation without seeing on every stage of it the impress of the iron 
will and broad aims of Henry VIII. ; or who would portray the 
English Church without recognising the comprehensive policy 
of Elizabeth. Or yet again, of all our brilliant English divines 
of the seventeenth century, there is not one who can be fairly 
said to have exercised as much influence over the popular the- 
ology of this nation, as has been undoubtedly exercised by 
a half-heretic half-Puritan layman, the author of " Paradise 

These instances indicate with sufficient precision the devious 
yet obvious path which, without losing sight of the wide horizon 
on the one hand, or without undue contraction of his view 
on the other, the student of Ecclesiastical History may safely 
follow. If we may for a moment return to our former position 
and imagine ourselves overlooking the broad expanse into 
which the stream bursts forth from the mountains of its early 
stages, our purpose henceforth will be, not so much to describe 
the products of the forest or the buildings of the city which have 
grown up on the banks of the river, but to track the river itself 
through its various channels, under its overhanging thickets, 
through the populous streets and gardens to which it gives life ; 
to see what are its main, what its tributary streams ; what the 
nature of its waters ; how far impregnated with new qualities, 
how far coloured, by the various soils, vegetations, uses, through 
which they pass ; to trace their secret flow, as they go softly 
through the regions which they fertilise ; not finding them 
where they do not exist, not denying their power where they do 
exist ; to welcome their sound in courses however tortuous ; to 
acknowledge their value however stained in their downward 
and onward passage. Difficult as it may often be to find the 
stream, yet when it is found it will guide us to the green pastures 
of this world's wilderness, and lead us beside the still waters. 

Three landmarks, at least, may be mentioned, by which this 
course of Ecclesiastical History may be distinguished from that 
of history generally. 

First, there are institutions, characters, ideas, words, which 
can be traced to the. religious, especially to the Christian, prin- 
ciple in man, and to nothing besides. There are virtues and 
truths now in the world, which can only be ascribed to the 

Ecclesiastical History 15 

influence of Christian society : and there are corruptions of those 
virtues and of those truths, which have produced crimes and 
errors to be ascribed also, though remotely and indirectly, to 
the same source. There are events in the common course of 
history revolutions, wars, divisions of races and nations 
which in themselves can hardly be called religious, but which 
have at least one aspect distinctly religious. There are also 
institutions, customs, ceremonies, even vestures and forms of 
ritual, in which, though originally pagan or secular, Christian 
ideas have now become fixed so as to be inseparable from 
them. All these it is the task of Ecclesiastical History to 
adjust and discriminate. 

Secondly, in every age, even the worst, there have been 
beneath the surface latent elements of religious life and of active 
goodness, which it will be our duty to bring to light, as the true 
signs of a better world beyond, and of the Divine Presence 
abiding with us even here, a Church, as it were, within a 
Church; a "remnant," to use the language of the older 

Thirdly, the whole history of the Church, though usually 
flowing in the tracks marked out for it by the great national and 
geographical boundaries of the world, yet has a course, not 
always, and therefore not of necessity, identical with the channel 
of human civilisation. In the history of the Church as in that of 
the world, in the history of the Christian Church as in that 
of the Jewish, there is a distinct unity of parts, an onward 
progress from scene to scene, from act to act, towards an end yet 
distant and invisible ; a unity and a progress such as give con- 
sistency and point to what would else be a mere collection of 
isolated and disjointed facts. 

Let us then, before we conclude, briefly notice the succes- 
sive stages through which, eventually, our course of study must 
lead us, and the interest especially attaching to each. 

The first period is that which contains the great question, 
almost the greatest which Ecclesiastical History has to answer, 
How was the transition effected from the age of the Apostles to 
the age of the Fathers, from Christianity as we see it in the New 
Testament, to Christianity as we see it in the next century, and 
as, to a certain extent, we have seen it ever since ? 

No other change equally momentous has ever since affected 
its fortunes, yet none has ever been so silent and secret. The 
stream, in that most critical moment of its passage from the 
everlasting hills to the plain below, is lost to our view at the 

1 6 The Province of 

very point where we are most anxious to watch it ; we may 
hear its struggles under the overarching rocks ; we may catch 
its spray on the boughs that overlap its course ; but the torrent 
itself we see not, or see only by imperfect glimpses. It is not 
so much a period for Ecclesiastical History as for ecclesiastical 
controversy and conjecture. A fragment here, an allegory 
there ; romances of unknown authorship ; a handful of letters 
of which the genuineness of every portion is contested inch by 
inch ; the summary examination of a Roman magistrate ; the 
pleadings of two or three Christian apologists \ customs and 
opinions in the very act of change ; last but not least, the 
faded paintings, the broken sculptures, the rude epitaphs in the 
darkness of the catacombs, these are the scanty, though 
attractive, materials out of which the likeness of the early 
Church must be reproduced, as it was working its way, in the 
literal sense of the word, " under ground," under camp and 
palace, under senate and forum, "as unknown, yet well 
known ; as dying, and behold it lives." 

This chasm once cleared, we find ourselves approaching the 
point where the story of the Church once more becomes history 
becomes once more the history, not of an isolated community, 
or of isolated individuals, but of an organised society incor- 
porated with the political systems of the world. Already, in 
the close of the second and beginning of the third century, the 
Churches of Africa, now seen for a few generations before their 
final disappearance, exhibit distinct characters on the scene. 
They are the stepping-stones by which we cross from the 
obscure to the clear, from chaos to order. Of these the Church 
of Carthage illustrates the rise of Christianity in the West, the 
Church of Egypt that of Christianity in the East. 

But the first great outward event of the actual history of the 
Church is its conversion of the Empire ; and, in close connec- 
tion with this, its first wide sphere in the face of mankind, is 
the Oriental world out of which it sprang, and in which the 
external forms of its early organisation can still be most clearly 
studied. In the usages of the ancient systems which have 
grown up on that soil Coptic, Greek, Asiatic we may still 
trace the relics, the fossilised relics, of the Old Imperial 
Church. 1 In the period of the first Councils, and in some 
passages of the Byzantine Empire, the fortunes of the Eastern 
Church are identified with the fortunes of Christendom. 2 Its 

1 Lecture I. a Lect. II VII. 

Ecclesiastical History 17 

connection with the general course of Ecclesiastical History in 
subsequent times depends chiefly on two developments of 
religious life of a very different kind from each other, the rise 
of Mahometanism, 1 and the rise of the Church and Empire of 
Russia. 2 

With the exception of these three periods or stages, and 
viewed as part of the continuous history of the Church, Eastern 
Christianity must be considered but as the temporary halting- 
place of the great spiritual migration which, from the day that 
Abraham turned his face away from the rising of the sun, has 
been stepping steadily westward. 

Another and a wider sphere was in store for the progress 
of the Church than its own native regions ; another and a 
nobler conquest than that of its old worn-out enemy on the 
tottering throne of the Caesars. The Gothic tribes descended 
on the ancient world ; the fabric of civilised society was 
dissolved in the mighty crisis; the Fathers of modern Europe 
were to be moulded, subdued, educated. By whom was this 
great work effected ? Not by the Empire it had fled to the 
Bosphorus; not by the Eastern Church its permanent con- 
quests were in another direction. In the Western, Latin, 
Roman clergy, in the missionaries who went forth to Gaul, to 
Britain, and to Germany, the barbarians found their first 
masters ; in the work of controlling and resisting the fierce 
soldiers of the Teutonic tribes lay the main work, the real 
foundation, the chief temptation of the Papacy. From the 
day when Leo III. placed the crown of the new Holy Roman 
German Empire on the head of Charlemagne, the stream of 
human progress and the stream of Christian life, with whatever 
interruptions, eddies, counter-currents, flowed during the next 
seven centuries in the same channel. As the history of the 
earlier stages revolved round the characters of the Fathers or 
of the Emperors, so the history of the middle ages, with all 
their crimes and virtues, revolved (it is at once the confession 
of their weakness and their strength) round the character and 
policy of the Popes. What good they did, and what good they 
failed to do, by what means they rose, and by what they fell, 
during that long period of their power, form the main questions 
by which their claims must be tested. 

And now a new revolution was at hand, almost as terrible in 
its appearance and as trying in its results as any that had gone 

1 Lect. VIII. 2 Lect. IX XII. 

1 8 The Province of 

before. The fountains of the great deep were again broken 
up. New wants and old evils had met together. The failure 
of the Crusades had shaken men's belief in holy places. 
Long abuses had shaken their belief in Popes, bishops, 
monasteries, sacraments, and saints. The revival of ancient 
learning had revealed truth under new forms. The invention 
of printing had raised up a new order of scribes, expounders, 
readers, writers, clergy. Institutions which had guided the 
world for a thousand years, now decayed and out of joint, gave 
way at the moment when they were most needed. Was it 
possible that the Christian Church should meet these trials as 
it had met those which had gone before ? It had lived through 
the fall of Jerusalem; it had lived through the ten persecutions ; 
it had lived through its amalgamation with the Empire ; it had 
lived through the invasion of the barbarians : but could it live 
through the struggles of internal dissolution? could it live 
through the shipwreck of the whole outward fabric of its 
existence ? could the planks of the vessel, scattered on the 
face of the raging flood, be so put together again as to form 
any shelter from the storm, any home on the waters ? Did the 
history of the Church come to an end, as many thought it 
would, when its ancient organisation came to an ^ end, in the 
great change of the Reformation ? 

We know that it still lived on. That it survived at all is the 
best proof which it has yet presented of its inherent vitality ; 
that it survived, in a purified form, is the best pledge of its 
future success. To ancient Christianity, to Byzantine Chris- 
tianity, to Roman Christianity, was now added the fourth and 
equally unmistakeable form of Protestant Christianity : like the 
others, clothed in an outward shape of its own, and confining 
itself specially to distinct branches of the European family, yet 
also penetrating with its spirit institutions and nations outwardly 
most repugnant to it. Amidst many conflicts, therefore, Eccle- 
siastical History still continues in the general tracks that were 
opened for it in the sixteenth century. Whatever political 
troubles have agitated the world since that time, and whatever 
changes may be fermenting in the inner heart and mind of the 
Church, none have since altered its outward aspect and 
divisions. In one repect a wide difference exists between the 
history of Christendom, as it was before, and as it has been 
since, the Reformation. Henceforward we cannot follow its 
course as a whole : each country must have its own ecclesi- 
astical as well as its own civil history. Italy, Spain, Sweden, 

Ecclesiastical History 19 

Holland, Geneva, Scotland, the very names have each, in 
theological language, a peculiar pathos and significance 
imparted by the Reformation. In each that great event 
awakened a different note as it traversed their several chords. 
Still there are three countries in which, beyond all others, the 
religious history of Europe has been specially carried on. 

It is in France that the fortunes of Christianity during the 
last three centuries have been most visibly represented in the 
brightest and in the darkest colours. The Galilean Church, 
in the seventeenth century the most brilliant in Europe, 
brilliant alike in its works of active mercy and in its almost 
Augustan age of great divines, Vincent of Paul, Bossuet, 
Fenelon, Pascal, became in the eighteenth century the 
miserable parent, and then the victim, of the great convulsion 
which, whilst it shook the belief of the whole of Europe, in 
France for eleven years suppressed it altogether. The French 
Revolution must always be considered as an epoch in the 
religious history of man. Not only was its hostility to the 
Christian faith the most direct that the world has seen since 
the days of Julian ; not only did it spring, in great measure, 
out of the corrupt state of the French clergy, the Church of 
Dubois and of Talleyrand ; but it possessed in itself that 
frightful energy which, as has been truly observed by its latest 
exponent, 1 can only be likened to the propagation of a new 
religion the wild fanaticism, the proselytism, the self-devotion, 
the crimes, as though of a Western Mahometanism of what its 
own disciples have often called it, an imitation, a parody, a 
new, distorted edition of the Gospel. Not only is its history 
instructive as a moral warning to all existing Churches, and as 
an interpreter of the great religious storms of former ages, but 
it changed the whole external constitution of the Church on 
the Continent generally ; and, in the inward sifting and trial of 
the religious thoughts of men, its effects can still now be felt, 
even in countries the furthest removed from its immediate 

Germany, the seat of the original movement of the Reform- 
ation, has never lost the hold which it then first acquired on 
the reason and imagination of mankind. Its collective power 
as a Church has been too impalpable to attach itself to any 
definite course of outward events. But its individual divines 
have, more than any others, taken the place occupied by the 

1 Tocqueville: L'Ancien Regime et la Revolution, c. iii. Compare 
Burke's "Thoughts on French Affairs," vol. iv. p. 10. (Bohn's Ed.) 

2O The Province of 

schoolmen of the middle ages. No others, within the last 
hundred years, have exercised so powerful an influence over 
the rest of Europe as the philosophical and critical theologians 
of the German universities. 

And this leads us finally to the third great ecclesiastical 
system which stands alone and apart, yet with its own peculiar 
mission, in the general fortunes of the Western Church. At 
least for Englishmen, no Ecclesiastical History since the 
Reformation can be so instructive as that of our own Church 
of England. To see how, out of that wide shipwreck the 
fragments of our vessel were again pieced together ; how far it 
has realised the essential condition of the ark on the stormy 
waters ; how far it has contained within itself the necessary, 
though heterogeneous, elements of our national faith and 
character ; how far it may still hope to do so ; what is its 
connection with the past, what its hold upon the future ; this 
is the last and most important task of the English ecclesiastical 
historian. The peculiar constitution of our State has borne 
the brunt and survived the shock of the French Revolution : it 
is the hope of the peculiar constitution of our Church that it 
should in like manner meet, overcome, and absorb the shock 
of the new thoughts and feelings to which, directly or indirectly, 
that last of European movements has given birth. 

I have been induced thus, at the outset, to dwell on this broad 
extent of prospect, first, because it is only by a just appreciation 
of the whole that any part can be properly understood ; and, 
secondly, because I wish to impress on my hearers the many 
points of contact which Ecclesiastical History presents to the 
various studies of this place. If at times it is impossible not 
to be oppressed with the load which has to be taken from the 
stores of the Pilgrim's Palace, it is a satisfaction to remember 
that there are many travellers passing along the same road who 
will, almost of necessity, lighten the burden and cheer the 
journey by their common interest in the treasures borne away. 

One such has been before me in this path, my lamented 
predecessor. Personally, he was almost unknown to me. In 
our mode of dealing with the subject before us we might have 
widely differed. But I cannot enter on this office without 
bearing my humble testimony to the conscientious industry 
with which, as I have heard from those who attended his 
Lectures, he guided them over the rugged way which he had 
chosen for them ; without expressing my grateful sense of the 
characteristic forethought and munificence with which he 

Ecclesiastical History 21 

bequeathed to this Chair the valuable endowment of his library. 
Still more, I should be doing wrong both to him and to the 
University, were I not to dwell for a moment on what I have 
always understood was the chief ground of the respect which 
he commanded in this place. He was emphatically a "just man;" 
he possessed in an eminent degree that rare gift of public 
integrity and fairness too rare in the world, too rare in the 
Church, too rare in Ecclesiastical History, too rare even in great 
seats of learning, not to be noticed when it comes before us, 
especially when, as in the present case, it passes away with the 
marked approbation and regret of all who witnessed it. In 
times of much angry controversy he never turned aside from 
his straightforward course to excite needless alarms. He never 
stooped 1 to win theological favour by attacking unpopular 
names. He never allowed any religious sentiment or fancy to 
interfere with his manly and severe sense of truth and duty. 
He showed that it was possible to be impartial without weak- 
ness, and orthodox without bitterness. May the University 
long remember that such was the character which she delighted 
to honour ! May his successors in this Chair be encouraged 
and enabled to act and to speak, in this most important 
respect, according to his example ! 

For the sake of convenience I subjoin the leading chrono- 
logical divisions, which to some extent cross the historical and 
geographical divisions laid down in the foregoing Lecture. 

I. The rise of the Christian Church. A.D. 30 312. 

1. The Apostolic Age. 3070. 

2. The transition from the Apostolic age. 70 160. 

3. The Age of Persecution. 160312. 

II. The Church of the Empire. 

The Western Church. The Eastern Church. 

I. The beginning of the I. The age of the Eastern Coun- 
Roman Church and of cils. 312 781. 

Latin Theology. 312 2. The rise of the Greek Empire 
476. and Church. 3301453. 

3. The rise of Mahometanism. 

622 732. 

4. The rise of the Russian 

Church. 988 1700. 

1 As one instance, it may suffice to record the remarkable Ordination 
sermon on "The Atonement," preached by Professor Hussey in December, 
1855, in which he defended the doctrine of an eminent theologian, at that 
time the object of much vehement obloquy, and showed in guarded but 
decisive terms its substantial identity with that of the ancient Fathers. 

22 The Study of 

III. The Church of the Middle Ages. 4761517. 

1. Conversion of the Barbarians. 450 800. 

2. The Papacy and the Crusades. 8001300. 

3. The Western Councils and Preludes of the Reformation. 


IV. The Church of the Reformation. 1517 1789. 

1. The crisis of the Reformation. 15171550. 

2. The wars of the Reformation. 1550 1660. 

3. The rise of Latitudinarianism, of Methodism, of Gallicanism, 

and of German theology. 1660 1789. 

V. The French Revolution. 17891815. 



IT is sometimes said, that of all historical studies that of 
Ecclesiastical History is the most repulsive. We seem to be 
set down in the valley of the Prophet's vision, strewn with 
bones, and behold they are " very many " and " very dry ; " 
skeletons of creeds, of churches, of institutions ; trodden 
and traversed by the feet of travellers again and again ; the 
scapegoat of one age lying lifeless by the scapegoat of 
the next; craters of extinct volcanoes, which once filled the 
world with their noise, and are now dead and cold ; the sait 
shores of a barren sea, which throws up again dead and 
withered the branches which the river of life had cast into 
it full of beauty and verdure, the very reverse of that green 
prospect which I set before you in my opening lecture ; the 
more dreary, it may be said, from the wide extent into which 
it spreads. " How are we to give interest to such a task ; 
how shall the healing streams penetrate into those dead 
waters ; how shall those dry bones live ? " 

There may be many answers to this question, but I shall 
content myself with the most obvious. Remember that of all 
these things there is a history. These relics, these institutions, 
these characters (take them at their worst), had each a part 
to play amongst mankind ; they were men of flesh and blood 
like ourselves, or they dwelt with men of flesh and blood like 
ourselves ; they were living human spirits, or they were the 
instruments of living human spirits ; however decayed, how- 
ever antiquated they may be, yet in their very age they have 

Ecclesiastical History 23 

an interest which no novelty can give. We cannot, it is true, 
enter on Ecclesiastical History, whether in its wider or its 
narrower sense, with the feeling of fresh enthusiasm which 
inspires the discoverers of unexplored regions, whether of 
science or history, "the first who ever burst into the silent 
sea," or secluded ruins, which no eye of man has seen before. 
But we can enter upon it with the yet deeper delight which 
fills our minds, as we feel rising beneath our feet the ground 
of the Seven Hills; or as we gaze, knowing that hundreds 
of thousands have gazed before us, on the everlasting outline 
of the Pyramids. So view the history of the Church, even in 
its most lifeless and withered forms ; so view it as part of a 
whole, as once having lived, as living still in ourselves, as 
destined to live on in future generations ; so prophesy over 
its dry bones as they lie scattered and disjointed over the 
surface of the world, and we shall soon hear " a noise and a 
shaking," and "the bones will come together," each to each, 
and " the breath will come into them, and they will live and 
stand upon their feet, an exceeding great army." 

Let me point out how this remedy is involved in the very 
nature of the case. Take, for example, the history of doc- 
trines and opinions. Many ecclesiastical histories contain 
little else ; half of theology is taken up in stating them. 
How immensely do they gain in liveliness, in power, in the 
capacity of being understood and appreciated, if we view 
them through the medium of the lives, characters, and cir- 
cumstances of those who received and taught them ! Trace 
the actual course of any opinion or dogma ; see the influences 
by which it was coloured; compare the relative importance 
attached to it at one period and another; ask how far the 
words in which it has been expressed convey the same or a 
different meaning to us or to our fathers; discover, if pos- 
sible, its fountain-head in the time, the country, or the person 
in which it first originated. Look at Augustinianism as it 
arose in the mind of Augustine ; at Lutheranism as it was 
conceived by Luther ; at Wesleyanism as it was set forth by 
Wesley. It will cease to be a phantom, it will speak to us as 
a man r if it is an enemy, we shall slay it more easily ; if a 
a friend, we shall embrace it more warmly. 

Still more is this the case with the kindred subject of 
Confessions and Articles of Faith. If we regard them 
merely in their cut and dried results, they may indeed serve 
many useful ends ; they supply stakes to make hedges against 

24 The Study of 

intruders, planks to cross our enemy's trenches, faggots to 
burn heretics. But go to the soil from which they sprang. 
Watch them in their wild, native, luxuriant growth. Observe 
the moss which has grown over their stems, the bough rent 
away there and grafted in here, the branches inextricably 
intertwined with adjacent thickets. So regarded, they will 
not be less, but more of a shelter ; we shall not value them 
the less for understanding them better. Figure to yourselves, 
as you read any creeds or confessions, the lips by which they 
were first uttered, the hands by which they were first written. 
Hear the Apostles' Creed, as it summed up in its few simple 
sentences the belief of Roman martyrs. Watch the Nicene 
Bishops meeting each other, and their opponents, and the 
Emperor Constantine, for the first time, on the shores of the 
Bithynian lake. Listen to the triumphs of Clovis and Recared 
over the Arians of France and Spain, the rising storms between 
East and West, and you will more clearly catch the true 
meaning of their echo in the old Latin hymn, Quicunque vult, 
then first welcomed into the worship of Western Europe. Read 
the Articles of the English Church in their successive mutila- 
tions, excrescences, variations. Go to that most precious of 
collegiate libraries in the sister University, where the venerable 
autograph which contains them may still be seen ; look at the 
signatures of those whose names are affixed : conceive the 
persons whom those names represent : imagine them as any 
one who has ever taken part in any council, or commission, or 
committee, or conclave of any kind whatever, can and must 
imagine them ; one sacrificing, another insisting on, a favourite 
expression; a new turn given to one sentence, a charitable 
colour thrown over another ; the edge of a sharp exclusion 
blunted by one party, the sting of a bitter sarcasm drawn by 
another. Start from this view, as certain as it can be made by 
the facts of human nature and by the facts of history, both uni- 
versal and particular. Regard confessions of faith in this their 
only true historical light, and in that light many a new glimpse 
will be obtained of their practical justice and moderation; 
many a harsh expression will be explained, many a superfluous 
scruple of honest minds will vanish away, many a foolish 
controversy will be extinguished for ever. 

But the proper material for Ecclesiastical History is, after 
all, not institutions or opinions, but events and persons. 
Leviticus and the Proverbs have their own special value, but 
they are not reckoned amongst the " historical books " of 

Ecclesiastical History 25 

the Jewish Church. Bingham's learned work, however useful 
as an auxiliary, contains "the antiquities," not the history of 
the Christian Church. It is on its special incidents and char- 
acters that the vitality of any history depends. How can we 
best make ourselves acquainted with these ? 

In this, as in so many other branches of knowledge, the 
question can only be fully answered in each particular case. 
Whatever way will best enable each man, in his own peculiar 
situation, character, and opportunities, to remember and 
understand, and profit, that is to him the best, and can be 
taught only by consulting his own experience. 

For general readers, the best general counsel which can 
be given, is that which I have already indicated. Study the 
history of the Church in connection with the collateral sub- 
jects with which it is bound up : let us keep our eyes and ears 
open to the religious aspects of history, and they will break in 
upon us, we know not whence, or how. 

Let us read also, whatever we do read, as elsewhere, so 
here, in the works of eminent historians rather than in those 
of writers without a name and without a character ; and yet 
more, read, if possible, works which describe what they 
describe at length and in detail, and which therefore leave 
a lasting impression on the memory and imagination rather 
than in the crowded pages of meagre abstracts, which are 
forgotten as soon as read. Great works and full works, not 
small works and short works, are in the end the best economy 
of time, as well as of everything else. 

But this leads me to what is on the whole, the most 
instructive, though (it may be) not the only practicable, course 
to be followed by those who wish, in the true sense of .the 
word, to be " students " of Ecclesiastical History. We can- 
not attempt to describe or to study every event in detail, for 
time and labour would fail; we need not do it compendi- 
ously, for this has been done to our hands again and again, 
and of late years with such candour and research as to render 
any further work of the kind superfluous. One method 
remains to us, at once the most obvious and the most inter- 
esting. ' Lay aside the lesser events, or read them only so 
far as to preserve a continuous knowledge of the general 
thread of the history : it is for this purpose that the briefer 
narratives, when clearly and ably written, are of substantial 
use. But study the greater events, scenes, places, and revo- 
lutions in all the detail in which they can be represented to us. 

26 The Study of 

Take, for example, the General Councils of the Church. 
They are the pitched battles of Ecclesiastical History. Ask 
yourselves the same questions as you would about the battles 
of military history. Ask when, and where, and why they 
were fought. Put before "your minds all the influences of the 
age, which there were confronted and concentrated from 
different quarters as in one common focus. See why they 
were summoned to Nicaea, to Constance, to Trent ; the locality 
often contains here, as in actual battles, the key of their 
position, and easily connects the Ecclesiastical History of the 
age with its general history and geography. Look at the 
long procession as it enters the scene of assembly; see who 
was present, and who was absent. 1 Let us make ourselves 
acquainted with the several characters there brought together, 
so that we may recognise them as old friends if we meet them 
again elsewhere. Study their decrees, 2 as expositions of the 
prevailing sentiments of the time ; study them, as Mr. Froude 
has advised us to study the statutes of our own ancient Par- 
liaments ; see what evils are most condemned, and what 
evils are left uncondemned ; observe how far their injunctions 
are still obeyed, or how far set at nought, and ask in each 
case the reason why. Read them, as I have just now noticed, 
with the knowledge given to us by our own experience of all 
synods of all kinds ; read them with the knowledge which each 
gives of every other. Do this for any one Council, and you 
will have made a deep hole into Ecclesiastical History. 

And still more let this same rule be followed with regard 
to persons. Take any one character. It may be we shall 
be attracted towards him by some accidental connection ; it 
may, and should rather, be on account of his pre-eminent 
greatness. Do not let him leave you till you have, at any 
rate, retained some one distinctive feature by which you will 
know him again in the multitudes amongst which he will 
else be lost; some feature of mind or person which he has, 
and which others have not. 3 

Many of us must have read, in part at least, Neander's 
" History of the Christian Church," and will have admired, as 
every one must admire, the depth, the tenderness, the delicacy 
of Christian sentiment which pervades the whole of his vast 
work, and fulfils his own beautiful motto, " It is the heart 
which makes the theologian," Pectus theologum facit. Yet, 

1 See Lecture III. 2 See Lecture V. 

3 See Lectures VI. VII. XL XII. 

Ecclesiastical History 27 

without disparaging the value of such a mirror of Christian 
history in such a character, we cannot help feeling that it is 
often rather the theologian than the historian whose works 
we read ; that it is often rather the thoughts, than the actual 
persons and deeds, of men, that he is describing to us. They 
are the ghosts of Ossian, rather than the heroes of Homer ; 
they are refined, they are spiritualised, to that degree, that 
their personality almost vanishes; the stars of heaven shine 
through them : but we have no hold on their earthly frames ; 
we can trace no human lineaments in their features, as they 
pass before us. Let us endeavour to fill up this outline ; 
however much of deeper interest it may have for the more 
philosophical mind, it will hardly lay hold on the memory or 
the affections of the more ordinary student, unless it is 
brought closer to our grasp. How differently we learn to 
estimate even Neander himself, according as we merely 
regard him as a thinker of holy thoughts, the writer of a good 
book, or as we see the venerable historian in his own proper 
person, his black, shaggy, overhanging eyebrows, and his 
strong Jewish physiognomy revealing the nation and religion 
to which he first belonged, working at his history night and 
day with insatiable ardour, to show to his unconverted country- 
men what Christianity really was ; abstracted from all thought 
of worldly cares, of food, and dress, and money, and time; 
living, dying, buried in the affections, in the arms, of his 
devoted pupils ! What by proximity of time we are enabled 
to do for the historian, true research usually enables us to do 
for those whom he describes. Watch their first appearance, 
their education, their conflicts, their death-beds. Observe 
their relative position to each other ; see what one did which 
another would not have done, what one thought or said which 
to another would have been heretical or superstitious ; or, 
lastly, what all did, and said, and thought in common. 

If I were to name one especial excellence amongst the 
many which render Mr. Grote's great achievement so im- 
portant an addition, not merely to Grecian History, but to 
all historical study, of whatever kind, it would be the keen 
discrimination with which he presents, not merely distinct 
characters, but distinct types of character in the lineage of 
the Grecian mind, whom before we had been accustomed 
to regard much as we usually regard the fixed stars their 
distance from each other being lost in comparison with the 
distance from ourselves. In these contrasts and combinations 

28 The Study of 

of character we find exactly what is most needed in the history 
of the Church. Here, even more than in common history, 
we are apt to blend together the different persons of the story 
under one common class. Yet here, even more than in 
common history, we ought to keep each separate from each, if 
we would learn the lessons they have to teach to the world. 
Of ordinary readers, how few there are to whom the Fathers, 
the Schoolmen, nay, even the Reformers, although divided as 
classes, are not confounded as individuals ! How few there 
are who can trace the descent, step by step, as the genealogy 
(so to speak) of the Church is unrolled before us ! From 
Ignatius to Cyprian, from Origen to Athanasius, from 
Athanasius to Augustine, from Augustine to Bernard, from 
Bernard to Aquinas, to Tauler, to Luther, how wide are the 
gaps, how necessary the connection, how startling the differ- 
ence ! Or, again, in the more outward history, how various 
are the trains of association awakened by the successive re- 
presentatives of the Empire and of the Papacy, in Constantine, 
in Clovis, in Charlemagne, in Barbarossa, in Charles V. ; or, 
on the other hand, in Gregory I., in Gregory VII., in Innocent 
III., in Leo X., in Sixtus V. ! Each has his own message to 
deliver ; each has his own work to perform ; each is a link in 
that manifold chain which conveys the electric spark from 
the first to the nineteenth century. It was a happy thought of 
Eusebius, that he would trace the history of the various 
ancient churches through the succession of Bishops, who in 
those early times were literally the personifications of their 
flocks. It is a yet happier arrangement, whenever the interest 
of the history of the whole Church can be concentrated in the 
still grander succession of those who have stood forth as the 
overseers and guides of Christendom, whether by good or bad 
eminence, not only from generation to generation, but from 
century to century, and from age to age. 

It is not without reason that I have thus recommended for 
your study the selection of the detailed representation of some 
one event, person, or institution, of commanding interest. 
Not only will it furnish us with the best mode of giving life to 
what is often a barren labour, but it will also be the best safe- 
guard against many of the evils with which the student of 
Ecclesiastical History is beset. 

First, it is always useful to be reminded of the various 
degrees of importance in the different events and institutions 
of the Church. There is no more common error of theological 

Ecclesiastical History 29 

students than to regard everything connected with religion as 
of equal significance. They will allow of no light or shade, no 
difference between things essential and things unessential, no 
proportion between means and ends, between things moral 
and things ceremonial, between things doubtful and things 
certain. Against this levelling tendency of ecclesiastical study, 
History lifts up a warning which may be heeded when all else 
fails. Believe that Athanasius and Augustine are worthier 
objects of interest than Flavian or Optatus, and you will have 
made one step towards believing that there is a gradation of 
importance in the several controversies in which the Church 
has been engaged. Believe that the invasion and conversion of 
the barbarians was the great crisis and work of mediaeval re- 
ligion, and you will have made a step towards believing that the 
Church of Christ has higher aims than the disputes respecting 
the observance of Easter, or the shape of the clerical tonsure. 

Secondly, this combination of study round one main object 
solves, in part, the difficulty which I noticed in my first 
Lecture, respecting the relations of Civil and Ecclesiastical 
History. The subordinate persons and events of each may be 
easily divided from one another. But the greater characters 
of necessity combine both elements; they are the meeting 
points of the two spheres of human life ; they rise above the 
point of divergence ; they show that in the most important 
moments of social and individual action all the influences of 
life, physical, intellectual, political, moral, come together; in 
these cases, whatever we may do elsewhere, we cannot dis- 
entangle the web without breaking it. Those divisions of 
history which we sometimes see under the heads of " civil and 
military," " political " and " religious," though convenient for 
common wars or common controversies, yet utterly fail when 
they touch an age like the Reformation, though possible in the 
cases of Melanchthon or Jeremy Taylor, break down entirely 
when applied to Luther or Oliver Cromwell. The unity of 
purpose which is the main characteristic of any great mind, 
the close connection of leading ideas which is the main 
interest of any great age, is grievously marred when we have 
to seek the disjointed fragments from different quarters, and 
take up over and over again the thread of the same interrupted 

Thirdly, this same method will be a protection against the 
prevailing sin of ecclesiastical historians exclusiveness and 

30 The Study of 

It is well known that Eusebius openly avows his intention of 
relating only those incidents in the lives of the martyrs of 
Palestine which would reflect credit on the Church, and that 
Milner constructs his whole history on the principle that he 
will omit all mention of ecclesiastical wickedness, and record 
only the specimens of ecclesiastical virtue. Such a process, 
however edifying and useful for certain purposes, yet is never 
wholly safe, and happily is rendered almost impossible as soon 
as we wish to consider the full character and bearings of any 
person or institution on which we are engaged. If once we are 
inspired with a genuine desire of seeing the man as he really 
was, if he was worth being seen at all, we shall not be satisfied 
unless we see him altogether. Here, as in so many other 
respects, the sacred history of the Jewish Church is our best 
example. We there see, not the half, but the whole of David. 
We are told not only of his goodness, but of his sins ; and we 
can there judge how wonderfully the history of the Church has 
gained by such a frank disclosure : how thin,- how pale in 
comparison, would that biography have been, had the darker 
side been suppressed, and the bright side only exhibited. 
Such a completeness of view we are almost driven to take, 
when we explore, not one, but all the sources whence our 
knowledge can be drawn. 1 We may still lament that the story 
of the lion is so often told only by the man, that the lives and 
opinions of heretics can be traced only in the writings of the 
orthodox, that the clergy have been so often the sole historians 
of the crimes of the laity. But we shall have learned at least to 
know that there is another side, even when that side has been 
torn away or lost. We shall often find some ancient fragment 
or forgotten parchment, like that which vindicates Edwy and 
Elgiva from the almost unanimous calumny of their monastic 
enemies. We shall see that in the original biographies of 
Becket, partial though they be, enough escapes to reveal that 
he is not the faultless hero represented to us in modem 

The mere perusal of the indiscriminate praise and abuse 
lavished on the same person by two opposite historians is 
instructive, even for our guidance in the present. The mere 
collection of the cross-fire of vituperation from modern parti- 
sans is useful as teaching us distrust in any one-sided view of 
the past. Selden, who knew well the danger and falsehood of 

1 See Lecture II. 

Ecclesiastical History 31 

extremes, confines his advice on "ecclesiastical story" to this 
single point to study the exaggerated statements of Baronius 
on the one side, and of the Magdeburg Centuriators on the 
other, and "be our own judges." Nor let any one suppose 
that this conflict of evidence renders the attainment of 
certainty impossible. Doubtless there are many points both 
in sacred and in common history, both in civil and ecclesi- 

} astical records, where we must be content to remain in sus- 
pense. History will have left half its work undone, if it does 
not teach us humility and caution. But essential truth can 
almost always be found, truth of all kinds can with due 
research be usually found : she lies, no doubt, in a well ; but 
we may be sure that she is there if we dig deep enough. In 
this labour teachers and students must all work together. 
What one cannot discover, many at work on the same point 
can often prove beyond doubt. Like Napoleon and his 
comrades, when lost in the quicksands of the Red Sea, let each 
ride out a different way, and the first that comes to firm ground 
bid the others halt and follow him. 

Fourthly, this method of study will enable us all from time to 
time to set our foot on that firmest of all ground, which every 
student of history ought to touch once in his life, original 
authorities. We cannot do it always, but by the mere necessity 

'' of exploring any one subject to the bottom we must do it at times. 
It will be a constant charm of the history of the Chosen People 
that there we shall rarely be absent from, at any rate, the nearest 
approaches which can now be made to the events described. 
But it will be a charm also in the minute investigation of any 
point in the later history, that, however well told by modern 
compilers, there is almost sure to be something in the original 
records which we should else have overlooked. How inestimable 
are the fragments of Hegesippus and the Epistle of the Church 
of Lyons embedded in the rhetoric of Eusebius ! How lifelike, 
in the dead partisanship of Strype, are the letters, injunctions, 
and narratives of the actors whose words and deeds he so 
feebly undertakes to represent ! 

And original records are not confined merely to contem- 

| poraneous histories, nor even to contemporaneous literature, 
sermons, poems, laws, decrees. Study the actual statues and 
portraits of the men, the sculptures and pictures of the events : 
if they do not give us the precise image of the persons and 
things themselves, they give us at least the image left on those 
who came nearest to them. Study their monuments, their 

32 The Study of 

gravestones, their epitaphs, on the spots where they lie. Study, 
if possible, the scenes of the events, their aspect, their archi- 
tecture, their geography ; the tradition which has survived the 
history, the legend which has survived the tradition ; the 
mountain, the stream, the shapeless stone, which has survived 
even history and tradition, and legend. 

Take two examples instead of a hundred. There are few 
more interesting episodes in modern Ecclesiastical History 
than that of the Scottish Covenanters. But the school in which 
that episode must be studied is Scotland itself. The caves, 
and moors, and moss-hags of the Western Lowlands ; the tales, 
which linger still, of the black charger of Claverhouse, of the 
strange encounters with the Evil one, of the cry of the plover 
and peewit round the encampments on the hill-side, are more 
instructive than many books. The rude gravestones which 
mark the spots where those were laid who bore testimony 
to "the covenanted work of reformation, and Christ's kingly 
government of His house," bring before us in the most lively, 
because in the most condensed, authentic, original form, the 
excited feeling of the time, and the most peculiar traits of the 
religion of the Scottish people. Their independence, their 
fervour, their fierceness, may have belonged to the age. But 
hardly out of Scotland could be found their stubborn endur- 
ance, their thirst for vengeance, their investment of the 
narrowest questions of discipline and ceremony with the 
sacredness of universal principles. We almost fancy that we 
see the survivors of the dead spelling and scooping out their 
savage rhymes on the simple monuments, each catching from 
each the epithets, the texts, the names, almost Homeric in the 
simplicity and the sameness with which they are repeated on 
those lonely tombstones from shore to shore of the Scottish 

Or turn to a similar instance of kindred but wider interest. 
What insight into the familiar feelings and thoughts of the 
primitive ages of the Church can be compared to that afforded 
by the Roman catacombs ! Hardly noticed by Gibbon or 
Mosheim, they yet give us a likeness of the life of those early 
times beyond that derived from any of the written authorities 
on which Gibbon and Mosheim repose. Their very structure 
is significant; their vast extent, their labyrinthine darkness, 
their stifling atmosphere, are a standing proof both of the 
rapid spread of the Christian conversions, and of the active 
fury of the heathen persecutions. The subjects of the sculptures 

Ecclesiastical History 33 

and paintings place before us the exact ideas with which the 
first Christians were familiar ; they remind us, by what they do 
not contain, of the ideas with which the first Christians were 
not familiar. We see with our own eyes the very stories from 
the Old and the New Testament which sustained the courage 
of the early martyrs, and the innocent festivities of the early 
feasts of Christian love. The barbarous style of the sculptures, 
the bad spelling, the coarse engraving of the epitaphs, impresses 
upon us more clearly than any sermon the truth that God 
chose the weak, and base, and despised things of the world, 
to bring to nought the things which are mighty. He who is 
thoroughly steeped in the imagery of the catacombs will be 
nearer to the thoughts of the early Church than he who has 
learned by heart the most elaborate treatise even of Tertullian 
or of Origen. 

And now, having set before you the method of the study 
which, for all who enter upon it seriously, and in its general 
features even for all who enter upon it superficially, is the most 
desirable, let me briefly notice some of the special opportunities 
which we ourselves possess for following up the study of all. 

First, if there ever was a Church in which Ecclesiastical 
History might be expected to flourish, it is the English. 
Unlike almost all the other Churches of Europe, alone in its 
constitution, in its origin, in its formularies, it touches all the 
religious elements which have divided or united Christendom. 
He may be a true son of the Church of England, who is able 
to throw himself into the study of the first Four Councils to 
which the statutes of our constitution refer, or of the mediaeval 
times in which our cathedrals and parishes were born and 
nurtured. He also may be a true son of the same who is able 
to hail as fellow-workers the great reformers of Wittenburg, of 
Geneva, and of Zurich, whence flowed so strong an influence 
over at least half of our present formularies. But he is the 
truest son of all who, in the spirit of this union, feels himself 
free to sympathise with the several elements and principles of 
good which the Church of England has thus combined, who 
knows that the strength of a national Church, especially of the 
Church of a nation like ours, lies in the fact that it has never 
been surrendered exclusively to any one theological influence, 
and that the Christian faith which it has inherited from all is 
greater than the differences which it has inherited from each. 

The Prayer-book as it stands is a long gallery of Ecclesias- 
tical History, which, to be understood and enjoyed thoroughly, 

34 The Study of 

absolutely compels a knowledge of the greatest events and 
names of all periods of the Christian Church. To Ambrose 
we owe the present form of our Te Deum; Charlemagne breaks 
the silence of our Ordination prayers by the Veni Creator 
Spiritus. The Persecutions have given us one creed, and the 
Empire another. The name of the first great Patriarch of 
the Byzantine Church closes our daily service ; the Litany is the 
bequest of the first great Patriarch of the Latin Church, amidst 
the terrors of the Roman pestilence. Our collects are the joint 
productions of the Fathers, the Popes, and the Reformers. 
Our Communion Service bears the traces of every fluctuation 
of the Reformation, through the two extremes of the reign of 
Edward to the conciliating policy of Elizabeth, and the reac- 
tionary zeal of the Restoration. The more comprehensive, the 
more free, the more impartial is our study of any or every 
branch of Ecclesiastical History, the more will it be in accord- 
ance with the spirit and with the letter of the Church of 

Secondly, I cannot forbear to notice the special advantages 
vouchsafed to all of us in this place as members of this great 
University. Its libraries enable us to pursue our cross-ex- 
amination of ancient witnesses, our reproduction of ancient 
scenes and events through all the appliances of antiquarian and 
artistic knowledge. Its peculiar mixture of various characters 
and callings, students and studies, invites us to that fusion of 
lay and clerical, of modern and ancient, of common and sacred, 
which is so vital to a full understanding of our subject, yet 
which would be so easily lost in institutions more purely theo- 
logical, more strictly professional. But, besides all this, the 
very place itself is teeming with history, if not of the more 
universal Church, yet of the Church of our own country, to 
which, sooner or later, our studies must be turned. 

In those studies I trust that we shall find that " Alfred the 
Great, our first Founder," did well to plant his seat of learning 
beside the venerable shrine of St. Frideswide. We shall be 
the better able to comprehend Duns Scotus and the schoolmen 
as we stand in the ancient quadrangle of Merton, or listen 
to the dim traditions of Brasenose. Mediaeval theology and 
practice will stand out clearly in the quaint customs of Queen's, 
and the romantic origin of All Souls. The founders of Exeter 
and of New College will give us a true likeness of mediaeval 
prelates, architects, warriors, statesmen, and bishops, all in 
one, Wycliffe will assume a more distinct shape and form to 

Ecclesiastical History 35 

those who trace his local habitation as Master of Balliol. 
Erasmus will not soon die out of our recollection when we 
remember the little college of Corpus, which he hoped would 
be to Great Britain what the Mausoleum was to Caria, and 
what the Pyramids were to Egypt. The unfinished splendour 
of Christ Church is the enduring monument of the magnificence 
and of the fall of Wolsey. The Reformation will not be unaptly 
represented to us in the day when the quadrangles were knee- 
deep in the torn leaves of the scholastic divines, or when 
Ridley and Latimer suffered for their faith beside the gateway 
of Bocardo. Its successive retirements and advances have left 
their traces in the foundation of Wadham, Trinity, and Jesus. 
From St. John's began the counter reformation of Laud. 
Magdalen and University are the two memorials of resistance 
and subservience to James II. From Lincoln and Pembroke 
sprang the great religious movement of Wesley and Whitfield, 
and Oriel will not allow us to forget that we too have witnessed 
a like movement in our own day, of various forms and various 
results, already become historical, which will at least help us to 
appreciate such events in former times, and to remember that 
we too are parts of the Ecclesiastical History of our country. 

Finally, this leads us to the reflection that there will be 
probably many amongst my hearers who are looking forward 
to an active life in the various ministrations, near and distant, 
of the English Church. They too will have in their different 
localities, in those from which they came hither, in those to 
which they will go hence, the same atmosphere of ancient 
times surrounding them, wherever their lot be cast. Our 
Ecclesiastical History is not confined to Oxford or to any one 
sacred city. Everywhere we shall find something to keep alive 
in our recollections the growth and spread of the Christianity 
of this great country. Almost every church and churchyard 
has its own antiquities. Almost every parish and every sect 
has its own strange spiritual experiences, past or present. In 
almost every country and province we may study those august 
trophies of Ecclesiastical History, instructive beyond those of 
almost any other country, our cathedrals. I need name but 
one, the'most striking and the most obvious instance, the cradle 
of English Christianity, the seat of the English Primacy, my 
own proud cathedral, the Metropolitan Church of Canterbury. 

But, beyond any mere antiquarian interest, there must also 
be many occasions, in the work of every English clergyman, 
when the history of the Church may yield lessons of a practical 

36 The Study of 

and substantial value in his manifold duties and labours. What 
those lessons are I shall trust in some measure to represent in 
my next Lecture. Meanwhile, let me express the hope and the 
stimulus which ought to be given by the thought that I shall 
be addressing myself not merely to students but to those who 
will have to turn their study into practice ; not merely to the 
confined atmosphere of a lecture-room, but to a spirit blowing 
out from us and in upon us, to and from the four winds of 
heaven. There has been doubtless a tendency in past times 
(perhaps there will be in all times) which recent measures have 
wisely endeavoured to counteract, a tendency to absorb the 
general functions of the University into the special departments 
of ecclesiastical thought and education. But we must not for- 
get that there is also an academical narrowness, and dryness, 
and stiffness ; and that there is, on the other hand, an ecclesi- 
astical breadth, and freedom, and warmth, which is for that 
evil, if not the highest, at least to many of us the nearest, 
remedy. To think that any words here spoken, any books here 
studied, may enliven discourses and ministrations far away in 
the dark corners of London alleys, in the free air of heaths and 
downs in north or south, on western mountains or in eastern 
fens ; that records of noble deeds achieved, and of wise sayings 
uttered, long ago, may lend a point to practical precepts, or 
soften needless differences, or raise dull souls heavenward, or 
give a firmer grasp on truth ; this will of itself cheer many an 
hour of labour here. In that labour and with that hope it is 
for all of us to join. By constant communication of mutual 
knowledge, by contribution of the results of the several re- 
searches and gifts of all, students and learners will really be 
to their Professor not only (according to the well-known and 
now almost worn-out saying of Niebuhr) his wings, but also his 
feet, and his hands, and his eyes. By bearing in mind the 
large practical field in which our work may be afterwards used, 
we shall all bring to the very driest bones of our study sinews, 
and flesh, and blood, and breath, and spirit, and life. 

Note on page 34. 

For the statement respecting the Hymns of Te Deum Laudamus, and 
Veni Creator Spiritus, see Daniel's Thesaurus Hymnologicus, i. 213, 290. 

Ecclesiastical History 37 



IN my First Lecture, when defining the province of Ecclesi- 
astical History, I was led to describe it in its widest extent ; in 
my second, when stating the method by which life could be 
given to the study, I was led to dwell upon its narrower limits. 
And we must endeavour, in our future course, never, whilst 
studying the parts, to forget the whole; nor ever so to lose 
ourselves in the whole as to neglect the study of one or more 
of the parts. Breadth without accuracy, accuracy without 
breadth, are almost equal evils. 

In the present Lecture I propose to consider some of the 
chief practical advantages of the study. 

Whatever may be the uncertainties of History, whatever its 
antiquarian prejudices, whatever its imaginative temptations, 
there is at least one sobering and enlarging effect always to be 
expected from it that it brings us down from speculations and 
fancies to what at least profess to be facts, and that those facts 
transport us some little distance from the interests and the 
illusions of the present. This is especially true of. History in 
connection with Theology. As it is one of the main character- 
istics of Christianity itself, that alone of all religions it claims to 
be founded on historical fact ; that its doctrines and precepts 
in great measure have been conveyed to us in the form of 
history ; and that this form has given them a substance, a 
vitality, a variety, which could, humanly speaking, have been 
attained in no other way ; so we need not fear to confess that 
the same connection has existed through all the subsequent 
stages of the propagation of the religion. " The disciple is not 
above his Master ; " Theology is not above Christianity : the 
Christian Church is in many respects the best practical 
exposition of the Christian Religion. Facts are still the most 
powerful, the most solid, the most stubborn guides in the mazes 
of speculation and casuistry ; they cut through difficulties 
which arguments cannot overturn; they overturn theories 
which will surrender to nothing else. Ecclesiastical History 
is thus, as it were, the backbone of Theology. It keeps the 
mind of the theological student in an upright state. Often as 
facts are perverted, and twisted, and bent to meet a purpose, 

38 The Advantages of 

yet they offer a sterner resistance than anything else short of 
the primary instincts of humanity. 

They offer, too, not only the most convincing, but the 
least irritating modes of persuasion, an advantage in theological 
matters of no mean importance. The wrath which is kindled 
by an anathema, by an opinion, by an argument, is often 
turned away by a homely fact. It is like suddenly meeting an 
enemy face to face, of whom we have known only by report ; 
he is different from what we expected ; we cannot resist the 
pressure of his hand and the glance of his eye ; he has ceased 
to be an abstraction, he has become a person. How many 
elaborate arguments respecting terms of salvation and terms of 
communion are shivered to pieces, yet without offence, almost 
without resistance, as they are " walked through " (if I may use 
the expression) by such heathens as Socrates, such Noncon- 
formists as Howard, such Quakers as Elizabeth Fry. 

This applies more and more strongly as our range of facts is 
enlarged. The more numerous and the more varied are the 
objects which we embrace within our range of vision, the less 
likely are we to place our trust in what Bacon well calls " the 
idols of the cave," in which our own individual lot is cast. 

It will be vain to argue, on abstract grounds, for the absolute 
and indefeasible necessity of some practice or ceremony, of 
which we have learnt from history that there is no instance for 
one, two, three, or four hundred years, in the most honoured 
ages of the Church. It will be vain to denounce as subversive 
of Christianity, doctrines which we have known from biography 
to have been held by the very saints, martyrs, and reformers 
whom else we are constantly applauding. Opinions and views, 
which, in a familiar and modified form, waken in us no shock of 
surprise, or even command our warm admiration, will often for 
the first time be truly apprehended when we see them in the 
ritual or the creed of some rival, or remote, or barbarous 
Church, which is but the caricature and exaggeration of that 
which we ourselves hold. Practices which we insist on retaining 
or repudiating, as if they involved the very essence of the 
Catholic faith or of the Reformation, will appear less precious 
or less dangerous, as the case may be, in the eyes of the 
respective disputants, if history shows us clearly that we thereby 
make ourselves, on the one hand, more papal than the Pope, 
more Roman than Rome ; on the other hand, more Lutheran 
than Luther, more Genevan than Calvin. 

If this be the effect of the study of even isolated facts of 

Ecclesiastical History 39 

Christian history, much more will it result from the study of 
the general phenomena which mark its course. There may be 
a tendency in special subjects of ecclesiastical study to cramp 
and narrow the mind, but there is none such in the more 
general view, which embraces its relations to the world at large, 
and which compels us to view the lay as well as the clerical 
element of the Church, the broad secular framework in which 
the whole Church itself is set. 

It is always useful to see, as must be seen in any extensive 
survey, how large a portion of our ecclesiastical diversities is 
to be traced, not to religious causes, but to the more innocent, 
and in one sense irresistible, influences of nation, of climate, of 
race, of the general course of human affairs. The bitterness of 
English partisanship will be greatly diminished in proportion 
as we recognise the fact, that the divergence between the Church 
of England and Nonconformists springs from differences not so 
much of theological principle or opinion, as of social and 
hereditary position. The greater divisions of Christendom 
can be regarded "calmly and kindly," in proportion as we 
are able to take in, as from a summit, the whole view of which 
they form the intersecting lines. What seemed, near at hand, 
to be mere deformities, from a more distant point are lost in 
the sense of the vast prospect to which each feature con- 
tributes its peculiar part. The most cursory view of the various 
sects and Churches of the world will make us suspect that we 
are not all truth and goodness, nor they all error and vice. 
The very names of the chiefest among them, Greek and Latin, 
Gallican, Anglican, will show us how much of the distinction 
between them must be traced simply to national and 
geographical influences. 

Nor let it be supposed that a philosophical or a general 
view of Ecclesiastical History is of necessity a cold or con- 
temptuous view. There is, it is true, a melancholy feeling 
suggested by any wide contemplation of Christendom. We 
think of the contrast between the story as it might have been 
and the story as it is. We ask what ought to have been 
" more noble or more beautiful than the gradual progress of 
the Spirit of light and love, dispelling the darkness of folly, 
and subduing into one divine harmony all the jarring elements 
of evil;" and we have in its place (if I may use words the 
more touching from the keenness of regret with which they 
were uttered) "no steady, unwavering advance of heavenly 
spirits, but one continually interrupted, checked, diverted from 

40 The Advantages of 

its course, driven backward ; as of men possessed by some 
bewildering spell, wasting their strength upon imaginary 
obstacles, hindering each other's progress and their own, by 
stopping to analyse and dispute about the nature of the sun's 
light till all were blinded by it, instead of thankfully using its 
aid to show them the right path onward." * 

Most true, yet even in its very sadness containing grounds 
of hope and consolation. 

For, first though the course of Ecclesiastical History be 
thus dark, there is always a bright side to be found in Eccle- 
siastical Biography. 

Study the lives, study the thoughts, and hymns, and prayers, 
study the death-beds of good men. They are the salt, not 
only of the world, but of the Church. In them we see, close 
at hand, what on the public stage of history we see through 
every kind of distorted medium and deceptive refraction. In 
them we can trace the history if not of "the Catholic Church," 
at least of the " Communion of Saints." The Ac fa Sane forum 
were literally, as a great French historian has observed, the 
only light, moral and intellectual, of the centuries, from the 
seventh to the ninth, which may without exaggeration be 
called, "the dark ages." 2 "Their glories," it has been well 
said, " shine far beyond the limits of their daily walk in life ; 
their odours are wafted across the boundaries of unfriendly 
societies ; their spiritual seed is borne away, and takes root and 
bears manifold in fields far distant from the gardens of the 
Lord where they were planted." 3 We have to be on our 
guard against the proverbial exaggerations of biographers ; 
we have to disentangle fable and legend from truth and fact. 
But the profit is worth the risk; the work will be its own 
reward. It is well known that, amidst the trials which beset 
Henry Martyn the missionary, on his voyage to India, the 
study in which he found his chief pleasure and profit was in 
the kindly notices of ancient saints which form the redeeming 
points of Milner's " History of the Church." "I love" (so he 
writes in his diary) "to converse, as it were, with those holy 
bishops and martyrs, with whom I hope, through grace, to 
spend a happy eternity. . . . The example of the Christian 
saints in the early ages has been a source of sweet reflection 
to me. . . . The holy love and devout meditations of Augus- 

1 Arnold's Miscellaneous Works, p. 286. 

2 Guizot's Lectures on the Civilisation of France, c. xvii. 

3 Wilson's Bampton Lect., p. 275. 

Ecclesiastical History 41 

tine and Ambrose I delight to think of. ... No uninspired 
sentence ever affected me so much as that of the historian, 
that to believe, to suffer, and to love, was the primitive 
taste." 1 What he so felt and expressed may be, and has 
been, felt by many others. Such biographies are the common, 
perhaps the only common, literature alike of rich and poor. 
Hearts, to whom even the Bible speaks in vain, have by such 
works been roused to a sense of duty and holiness. However 
cold the response of mankind has been to other portions of 
ecclesiastical story, this has always commanded a reverential, 
even an excessive attention. 

Let us also remember, that what there is of instruction here 
is exactly of the kind which we ought to expect. Christianity 
affects the springs of action, rather than the actions them- 
selves ; from its very beginning it has been seen in the lowly 
rather than the lofty places of the world; in the manger of 
Bethlehem, in the peasants of Galilee, in the caves and dens 
of the earth : we may therefore fairly look for its chief in- 
fluences out of the beaten track of history ; when we cannot 
trace it on the great highway of the world, we may fairly 
conclude that its effects will be found in the corners and 
pathways of life : 

" Sprinkled along the waste of years, 
Full many a soft green isle appears : 
Pause where we may along the desert road, 
Some shelter is in sight, some sacred, safe abode." 

On the other hand, if we turn from the case of individual 
Christians to the case of the great masses of individuals which 
form the main bulk of the Church, they too have a lesson to 
teach, less palpable, but by no means to be despised, though 
it has been sometimes pushed to exaggeration. 

We know the old saying of Vincentius, "Quod semper, 
quod ubique, quod ab omnibus," " Believe what has been 
believed always, everywhere, and by everybody." It is need- 
less to repeat the arguments by which it can be shown that, 
in a literal sense, this axiom is always either untrue or 
inappliGable. The solitary protest 2 is always to be honoured 
the lonely martyr is avenged at last. Churches and nations, 
and whole generations, often seem to lose their reason. 
Baronius himself confesses that in the Church of the tenth 

1 Memoir of Henry Martyn, pp. 127, 130, 136. 

2 See Lecture VII. 

C 2 

42 The Advantages of 

century there was no pilot to guide the helm, no captain to 
command the crew, at the moment of its greatest need. 

But still the maxim of Vincentius contains a certain element 
of truth, which the facts of history entirely confirm. There is 
a common sense in the Church as there is a common sense 
in the world, which cannot be neglected with impunity ; and 
there is an eccentricity in individuals and in sects which 
always tends to lead us, if not into dangerous, at least into 
crooked paths. The error which is held by great, ancient, 
and national communities, often loses its mischief, and entirely 
changes its meaning when it becomes part of the general 
established belief. The truth which is held by a narrow sect 
often becomes error from the mere fact of the isolation and 
want of proportion in which it is held. 1 The strange folly of 
Christians persecuting Christians was first introduced on a 
large scale, not by the Orthodox, but by the heretics of the 
fourth and fifth centuries. The fancies of Millenarians, however 
innocent and natural, and however widely diffused among 
small circles, have always been resisted by the robust sense 
of the Universal Church. It is not, as a general rule, the 
larger, but the lesser congregations of Christendom, that have 
imposed the most minute and petty restrictions on opinion 
and practice. Whilst the Imperial, venerable, Orthodox 
Church of the whole East is content to repose on the short 
Creed of the first Councils, the little Church and state of 
Brunswick, under the auspices of Duke Julius, requires, or 
did require till recently, from its ministers a stringent 
subscription, not only to the three Creeds, the Augsburg Con- 
fession, the Apology for the Confession, and the Smalcaldic 
Articles, but to all that is contained in all th'e works of Luther, 
in all the works of Melancthon, in all the works of Chemnitz. 
The "Nine Articles" of "the Evangelical Alliance" impose 
a joke on the freedom of thought and conscience far heavier 
than that of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of 

In fact, the higher and wider is the sweep of vision the 

i In the able essay by M. Renan, " On the Future of Religion " (Revue 
des Deux Mondes, Oct. 15, 1860), where he considers the prospects of 
the Catholic, the National, and the sectarian principle, I venture to think 
that the gifted writer, in the preference which he awards to the third 
of these principles, has overlooked the historical proofs of its inferiority 
to either of the two former, in all that regards true toleration and compre- 
hensiveness, whatever may have been its services in other respects. 

Ecclesiastical History 43 

more difficult it is to stumble at trifles, and make mountains 
out of mole-hills. Power, no doubt, is often frightfully abused, 
whether in the hands of ecclesiastics or of laymen ; but to both, 
if there be any nobleness of character on which to work, it 
brings far more moderation and largeness of heart than is 
attainable by even better men in inferior stations. It was the 
charity and the wisdom of the Popes which protected the Jews 
in the middle ages against the fanatical attacks of individual 
zealots. The royal heart of the young King Edward was 
softer than the mercies even of a gentle prelate. Oliver 
Cromwell, when he came to wield the power of Church and 
State, of universities and of armies alike, was tolerant to a 
degree which his humbler followers were incapable of imitating 
or understanding. 

It is difficult to express the deference due to these consider- 
ations, without placing them above or below their just estimate. 
But they form too obvious, too important, I may add, too 
consoling, an inference from the course of ecclesiastical events, 
to be omitted altogether. Let us receive the fact both as an 
encouragement and as a caution. Whatever other charges 
may be brought against the history of Christendom, and 
however much it may have embraced within or alongside of 
itself sallies of wild sectarianism, yet it cannot fairly be called 
the history of Fanaticism, or even of enthusiasm. Grey hairs, 
and high station, and long experience, whether of individuals 
or of communities, have their own peculiar claims to respect. 
The movement of the Church to perfection has in it an element 
of solidity, of permanence, and of prudence, as well as of 
fluctuation and progress and zeal. 

But yet further, even when we consider more deeply the 
darker points in our general view, a sense of unity emerges 
from the midst of disunion, a sense of success from the midst 
of failure. Errors and truths which we are apt to ascribe to 
special sects, Churches, individuals, will often be seen to 
belong really to characters and principles which underlie and 
countersect the artificial distinctions on the surface of con- 
troversy. The ingenious essays in which Archbishop Whately 
traces "-the errors of Romanism " to the general fallacies latent 
in every creed and every Church, might be extended to all 
kinds of theological division. The celebrated treatise of 
Bossuet on " the Variations of Protestantism " might be over- 
laid by an instructive work on a larger basis, in a more 
generous spirit, and with a nobler object, " the Variations of 

44 The Advantages of 

the Catholic Church," showing how wide a range of diversities 
even the most ancient and exclusive communities have 
embraced; how many opposing principles, practices, and 
feelings, like the creeks or valleys of some narrow territory, 
overlap, traverse, enfold, and run parallel with each other into 
the very heart of the intervening country, where we should 
least expect to find them. Reformers, before the Reformation ; 
Popes, in chairs not of S. Peter; "new presbyter but old 
priest writ large ; " " eld foes with new faces ; " heresy under 
the garb of orthodoxy, orthodoxy under the garb of heresy; 
they who hold, according to the ancient saying, TO, ai/oeriKo, 
Ka$oA.i/c(os, and they also who hold TO, KaOoXiKa cupei-i/cSs; 
strange companions will be thus brought together from the 
east and from the west ; from the north and from the south. 
Pelagius lurks under the mitre of Chrysostom or the cowl of 
Jerome ; Loyola will find himself by the side of Wesley ; John 
Knox will recognise a fellow worker in Hildebrand ; the 
austerities of Benedict, the intolerance of Dominic, will find 
their counterpart at Geneva and in Massachusetts; the 
missionary zeal of the Arian Ulfilas, of the Jesuit Xavier, and 
of the Protestant Schwarz will be seen to flow from the same 
source. The judgment of history will thus far be able to 
anticipate the judgment of Heaven, and to supersede with no 
doubtful hand the superficial concords and the superficial 
discords which belong to things temporal, by the true separ- 
ation and the true union which belong to things eternal. 

But it is not only as a matter of wisdom and charity, but as 
a ground of Christian evidence, that a large view of ecclesi- 
astical differences is specially useful. In the diversity of the 
Church will be found a more powerful argument for the divine 
origin of Christianity itself, than in the most perfect unity. It 
is not, humanly speaking, surprising that a religion should 
sustain itself from age to age in the same race and country. 
We argue truly that such a restriction was needed as a support, 
not for the strength, but for the infirmities of Judaism ; we 
argue truly against the universal truth of Mahometanism, that 
it has never been able permanently to establish itself in any 
but an Eastern climate. But the distinguishing characteristic 
of the Christian Church has been, that it has assumed different 
forms, and yet not perished in the process ; that the gulf, 
however wide, which separates Greek from Latin, and both 
from Protestant, has yet not been wide enough to swallow up 
the common Christianity which has been transmitted from one 

Ecclesiastical History 45 

to the other. And, in like manner, to recognise the influence 
of races, institutions, and political convulsions on the history 
of the Church is assuredly, not to diminish, but to exalt its 
importance to men and to nations ; not to underrate its mission, 
but to represent it in its full grandeur. Nothing less than one 
of the prime agencies of the world could be so interwoven with 
the progress of great events, or in its different manifestations 
fall in so readily with the broad lines of demarcation which 
Nature herself has drawn between the various branches of the 
human family. 

And, yet further, the very imperfections and failings of the 
Church may tend to give us both a more sober and a more 
hopeful view of its ultimate prospects. The alarms, the dangers, 
the persecutions, the corruptions through which it has safely 
passed, are so many guarantees that it is itself indestructible. 
The fact that these obstructions to Christian truth and good- 
ness are found not in one Church only, but in all, instead of 
causing restlessness and impatience, ought to dispose us to 
make the best of our lot, whatever it be. We learn that every 
Church partakes of the faults, as well as of the excellences, of 
its own age and country ; that each is fallible as human nature 
itself ; that each is useful as a means, none perfect as an end. 
To find Christ or Antichrist exclusively in any one community 
is against charity and against humility, but, above all, against 
the plain facts of history. Let us hold this truth firmly, and 
we shall have then secured ourselves against two of the worst 
evils which infest the well-being of religious communities, the 
love of controversy and the love of proselytising. 

Every such reflection forces us back on a consideration 
which is both a chief safeguard and a chief advantage of 
Ecclesiastical History, the comparison which it suggests 
between what the Church is, and what in the Scriptures it was 
intended to be ; between what it has been, and what from the 
same source we 'trust that it may be. 

It is hard to say whether, by such a comparison, the study 
of the Bible or the study of Ecclesiastical History is most the 

What' is the history of the Church 1 but a long commentary 
on the sacred records of its first beginnings ? It is a fulfilment 

1 "The fulness of the stream is the glory of the fountain; and it is 
because the Ganges is not lost among its native bills, but deepens and 
widens until it reaches the ocean, that so many pilgrimages are made to its 
springs." Bishop Thirlwall's Charge, 1857, p. 8l. 

46 The Advantages of 

of prophecy in the truest and widest sense of that word ; a 
fulfilment, not merely of predictions of future events, but of 
that higher and deeper spirit of prophecy which " makes 
manifest the secrets of the heart." The thoughts and deeds of 
good Christians are still, as in the Apostolic times, a living 
Bible; an Epistle, a Gospel, " written on the hearts of men, 
known and read of all men." The various fortunes of the 
Church are the best explanation, as they are the best illustra- 
tion, of the parables which unfold the course of the kingdom 
of heaven. The failures of the Church are but the fulfilments of 
the mournful, almost pensive, anticipations of its history (how 
unlike the triumphant exaltations of so many human founders 
of human sects !), " not peace, but a sword ; " "a fire kindled 
on the earth ; " "a savour of death unto death." 

The actual effects, the manifold applications, in history, 
of the words of Scripture, give them a new instruction, and 
afford a new proof of their endless vigour and vitality. Look 
through any famous passage of the Old, or yet more of the 
New Testament ; there is hardly one that has not borne fruit 
in the conversion or some great saint, or in the turn it has given 
to some great event. At a single precept of the Gospels, 
Antony went his way and sold all that he had ; at a single 
warning of the Epistles, Augustine's hard heart was melted 
beneath the fig-tree at Milan ; a single chapter of Isaiah made 
a penitent believer of the profligate Rochester. A word to S. 
Peter has become the stronghold of the Papacy ; a word from 
S. Paul has become the stronghold of Luther. The Psalter 
alone, by its manifold applications and uses in after times, is a 
vast palimpsest, written over and over again, illuminated, 
illustrated, by every conceivable incident and emotion of men 
and of nations; battles, wanderings, dangers, escapes, death- 
beds, obsequies, of many ages and countries, rise, or may rise, 
to our view as we read it. 

Nor is it only in special passages that the history of the 
Church sets before us the greatness of its origin. It is on 
looking back upon a mountain range which we have left, that 
we often for the first time understand its true character. The 
peaks, which in a nearer view were all confused, now stand out 
distinct ; the line of heights is drawn out in its full length ; the 
openings and passes disentangle themselves from the surround- 
ing valleys; the nearer and lesser objects now sink to their 
proper level, as they are seen backed and overtopped by the 
lofty range behind and above them. Even so do we, at the 

Ecclesiastical History 47 

distance of eighteen hundred years, see in many respects the 
truths of Scripture with a clearer vision than they who lived 
even amidst their recesses or at their very foot. We who have 
traversed the long levels of Ecclesiastical History can see what 
they of old time could not see, the elevation of those divine 
words and acts, as compared with any that followed. We can 
see, as they could not see, the wide circumference of objects, 
which those words and acts overlooked, embraced, compre- 
hended. We can distinguish, as they could not distinguish, the 
relative importance, the due proportions, the general outline, of 
the various heights, and can sketch our picture and direct our 
steps accordingly. 

The very extent of our departure from the original truth ; the 
very violence which in successive ages has been put upon the 
sacred words ; the attempts to warp them by false interpretation 
or by false teaching, or to overlay them by theories or forgeries 
of a later date, only bring us in a more lively and instructive 
form what was the point from which we started, what is the differ- 
ence of the point to which we have now arrived. In that coarse 
but instructive tale in which Dean Swift described the develop- 
ment of Ecclesiastical History, when the father's will is at last 
brought to light by the three contending brothers, nothing could 
more clearly impress upon them the sense of its true meaning 
than the recollection of the artifices by which they had been 
induced to discover in it the sanction of their own deviations 
from it. " If not totidem sentcntiis, then toiidem verbis ; if not 
totidem verbis, then totidem liter is" So, with hardly an exaggera- 
tion, has Scripture often been handled. The next best clue to 
reading an oracle straightforwardly and honestly, is to be aware 
that we have been reading it backwards. The allegorical 
interpretations given by the early Fathers are virtual confessions 
that they have not attempted to expound the original meaning 
of the sacred authors. The variations of reading or rendering, 
which copyists or translators of later times have introduced 
into the text of the Scriptures, are positive proofs that they 
found the actual words insufficient to express the altered views 
of their own age. The attention paid to passages manifestly of 
secondary importance, and the neglect of passages manifestly 
of the very highest importance, may serve as gauges both of 
what we have hitherto lost and of what we may still hope to gain 
in the application of the Scriptures to the wants of Ecclesiastical 

This peculiar relation of the Bible to the history of the 

48 The Advantages of 

Church invites one concluding train of thought. When, 
sixteen years ago, a revered teacher stood in this place, and 
after a survey of the field of Modern History, asked whether 
there were in the existing resources of the nations of mankind 
any materials for a new epoch, distinct from those which had 
gone before, you may remember how he answered that there 
were none. What if the same question be asked with regard 
to the prospects of Ecclesiastical History ? We have seen that 
four great phases have passed over the fortunes of the Church : 
is there likely to be another? We are told that the resources of 
nation and race are exhausted for the outer world in which our 
history moves : are there any stores of spiritual strength yet 
unexplored in the forces of the Christian Church ? With all 
reverence and with all caution, may not the reflections which 
we have just made encourage us to hope that such a mine does 
exist, a virgin mine, in the original records of Christianity ? We 
need not speculate on the probable destinies of any Christian 
system or community now existing in the world ; we need not 
determine whether, as our own Protestant historian has declared, 
the Papacy may still be standing ages hence, 1 after England 
shall have passed away ; or whether, with the chiefs of Italian 
liberalism, we are to believe that it is steadily advancing year 
by year to the grave already dug to receive it. Still less need we 
compose volumes of future Ecclesiastical History out of fancied 
interpretations of the Apocalypse, in defiance alike of all human 
experience, all divine warnings. But a serious comparison of 
the actual contents of the Scriptures with the actual course 
of ecclesiastical events almost inevitably brings us to the 
conclusion that the existing materials, principles, and doctrines 
of the Christian Religion are far greater than have ever yet been 
employed ; that the Christian Church, if it ever be permitted 
or enabled to use them, has a long lease of new life, and 
new hope before it, such as has never yet been enjoyed. Look 
at the Bible on the one hand, and History on the other ; see 
what are the points on which the Scriptures lay most emphatic 
stress ; think how much of the sap and life of Christendom has 
run to leaf, and not to fruit ; remember how constant is the pro- 
test of Scripture, and, we may add, of the best spirits of the 
universal Church, a.gainst preferring any cause of opinion or 
ceremony to justice, holiness, truth, and love ; observe how 
constantly and steadily all these same intimations point to One 

1 Macaulay's Essays, vol. ii. p. 39. 

Ecclesiastical History 49 

Divine Object, and One only, as the centre and essence of 
Christianity : we cannot, with these experiences, hesitate to say, 
that, if the Christian Church be drawing to its end, or if 
it continue to its end with no other objects than those which 
it has hitherto sought, it will end with its acknowledged 
resources confessedly undeveloped, its finest hopes of usefulness 
almost untried and unattempted. It will have been like an 
ungenial spring cut short in full view of the summer, a stately 
vessel wrecked within the very sight of the shore. 

It may be that the age for creating new forms of the Christian 
faith is past and gone, that no new ecclesiastical boundaries will 
henceforth be laid down amongst men. It is certain that in the 
use of the old forms is our best chance for the present. Use 
them to the utmost ; use them threadbare, if you will : long 
experience, the course of their history, their age and dignity, have 
made them far more elastic, far more available, than any that 
we can invent for ourselves. But do not give up the study of the 
history of the Church, either in disgust at what has been, or in 
despair at what may be. The history of the Christian Church, 
no less than of the Jewish, bears witness to its own incomplete- 
ness. The words which describe its thoughts constantly betray 
their deflection from the original ideas which they were meant 
to express ; " Church, Gospel, Catholic, Evangelical," the very 
word " Ecclesiastical," as I noticed in first speaking of it, are 
now too often the mere shadows, sometimes even the exact 
opposites, of their ancient, orthodox, spiritual meaning. We 
need only trace the steps of their gradual descent to their 
present signification, in order to see how far they, and we with 
them, have to ascend again before we can reach the point from 
which they started, the point to which we have still to attain. 
Read, too, the expressions of the best and wisest Christians in 
their best and wisest moments. Take them, not in the passion 
of youth, not in the heat of controversy, not in the idleness of 
speculation, but in the presence of some great calamity, or in 
the calmness of age, or in the approach of death. Take that 
admirable summary of mature Christian experience, which 
ought to be in the hands of every student of Ecclesiastical 
History^ one might well add, of every student of theology, of 
every English minister of religion which is contained in 
Baxter's review of his own narrative of his life and times. 1 See 
how he there corrects the narrowness, the sectarianism, the 

1 The whole passage may be conveniently read in Wordsworth's Eccle- 
siastical Biography, vol. v. pp. 559-597. 

50 The Advantages of 

dogmatism of his youth, by the comprehensive wisdom acquired 
in long years of persecution, of labour, and devotion. Let 
us hope that what he has expressed as the result of his indi- 
vidual experience, we may find and appropriate in the 
collective experience of the old age of the Church. 

Then turn and observe how with this best witness of 
Christendom, the best witness of Christianity, as set forth in 
the Scriptures, entirely agrees. Take any of the chapters of 
the Old or New Testament, to which Prophets and Apostles 
appeal as containing, in their judgment, the sum and substance 
of their message ; take, above all, the summary of all Evangel- 
ical and Apostolical truth in the Four Gospels. Read them 
parallel with the so-called religious wars and controversies of 
former ages. Read them parallel with the so-called enlighten- 
ment, and the so-called religious sects and parties and journals, 
of our own age. Read, and fear, and hope, and profit, by the 
extent of the contrast. 

Doubtless there is much in the study of the Scriptures that 
is uncertain and difficult. But this is nothing in comparison 
with the light they have still to give, both in checking our 
judgment of the past, in guiding our judgment of the present 
and future. We may in former times have gone too much by 
their letter and too little by their spirit ; but it has been far 
oftener our fault that we have gone neither by letter nor 
by spirit; it has far oftener happened that, however much 
the spirit may be above the letter, yet the letter is far beyond the 
spirit in which we have often been accustomed to deal with it. 
Each age of the Church has, as it were, turned over a new leaf 
in the Bible, and found a response to its own wants. We have 
a leaf still to turn, a leaf not the less new because it is so old, 
not the less full of consequences because it is so simple. 

Of all the advantages which Ecclesiastical History can yield, 
this stimulus to a study of the Scriptures is the most important. 
That study, except to a limited extent, does not fall within our 
sphere ; the province of History, as such, will be sufficient to 
employ us ; and it will indeed be an ample reward, if I can be 
enabled, in any way, to give a new charm or a firmer basis to 
this great subject. But it would be a reward and an object far 
higher, if I could, in however slight a measure, make it point 
to the grandeur and the truth of that which is beyond itself ; 
if the study of the history of the Church should, by way of 
contrast, or illustration, or comparison, rouse any one to a 
deeper faith in the power and the design of the Bible, a 

Ecclesiastical History 51 

stronger belief in what it has already done, a higher hope and 
clearer understanding of what its words may yet effect for us, l 
in the chapters of living history in which we or the coming 
generations may bear a part. 

I ventured to commence this Introductory Course with the 
description of the treasures which were shown to the pilgrim 
in the palace by the highway-side ; I will close it with the 
prospect which he beheld thence on the far distant horizon, 
described in words too sacred, in part, perhaps, for us to use, 
but not too sacred for the truth and the hope which I have 
humbly, but in all seriousness, endeavoured to set before you 
as the conclusion of the whole matter : 

" Then I saw in my dream, that on the morrow he got up to 
go forwards, but they desired him to stay till the next day also : 
and then, said they, we will, ... if the day be clear, . . . 
show you the Delectable Mountains : which, said they, would 
further add to his comfort, . . . because they were nearer to the 
desired haven than where at present he was. ... So he 
consented and staid. When the morning was up, they had him 
to the top of the house, and bid him look south. So he did, 
and behold, ... at a great distance, ... he saw a most 
pleasant mountainous country, beautified with woods, vine- 
yards, fruits of all sorts, flowers also, with springs and fountains, 
very delectable to behold. Then he asked the name of the 
country. They said it was ' Immanuers Land ;'...' and it is 
as common/ said they, ' as this hill is to and for all the pilgrims. 
And when thou comest there, . . . from thence thou mayest 
see to the gate of the Celestial City, ... as the shepherds 
that live there will make appear/ " 

1 For a defence of the study of the Bible, on similar grounds, see the 
powerful and truly Christian arguments in the Essays of Dr. Temple and 
Professor Jowett in " Essays and Reviews" (pp. 44-48, 404-418). 


THE following are the chief works which may be consulted with advantage 
on the general condition of the Eastern Church : 

1. Orient Christianas. By Michael le Quien. (French Dominican.) 

1661 1732. An account of the Eastern dioceses, their extent, and 
the occupants of their sees from their foundation to 1 732. 3 vols. folio. 

2. Bibliotheca Orientalis. By Joseph Simon Assemanni. (Maronite 

Archbishop, Librarian of the Vatican.) 1687 1768. An account 
of the writers and manuscripts of Syria, Arabia, Egypt, and 

3. Liturgiarum Orientalium Collectio. By Eusebius Renaudot. (French 

Jesuit.) 1646 1720. 2 vols. 4to. 

4. Nomocanon. (Collection of the Ecclesiastical Laws of the Greek 

Church, by Photius.) Edited at Paris, 1615. 

5. Euchologium (sive Rittiale Gracum). Jacob Goar. 1647. 

6. Codex Liturgicus Ecclesia Orientalis. H. A. Daniel. Leipsic, 1853. 

7. Libri Symbolici Ecclesics Orientalis. (Collection of modern Con- 

fessions of the Eastern Church.) Kimmel, at Jena, 1843. 

8. Lives of the Eastern Saints are contained in the Menologium Gracum, 

or in the Latin translations of Simeon Metaphrastes, in the Vita 
Sanctorum of Laurence Surius. 1587. 

9. Account of the eminent Writers of the Greek Church in Fabricius, 

Bibliotheca Gnzca, vols. vii.-xii. 

10. DC Graccc Ecdesice hodierno Statu. By Thomas Smith. 1698. 

11. State of the Greek Church. By J. Covell, D.D. 1722. 

12. Rites and Ceremonies of the Greek Church. By John King, Chaplain 

at St. Petersburg. 1787. 

13. History of the Holy Eastern Church. By John Mason Neale, M.A., 

Warden of Sackville College. Of this laborious and learned work 
two portions only yet have appeared : 

1. The Patriarchate of Alexandria. (See infra.) 

2. The General Introduction. 2 vols. 8vo. 1850. 

To this, rather than to more recondite sources, I have usually 
referred the reader for the constitution and customs of the Oriental 
Church. I may also mention an excellent essay on The Eastern 
Church, which appeared as a review of Mr. Neale's work, in the 
Edinb. Rev. vol. cvii. p. 322. 

For the general sentiment of the Eastern Churches a few works out of 
many are selected : 

I. Dissertations on the Orthodox, or Eastern Communion. By William 
Palmer, M.A., late Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and 
Deacon. 1853. 


Works for Reference 53 

2. Question Rcligieuse de r Orient et de f Occident. Moscow, 1856. 

Lettres & un Ami sur f Office Dimn. St. Petersburg, 1850. By 
Andrew Nicolaivitch Mouravieff. 

3. Quelques Mots par un Chretien Orthodoxe. Paris, 1853 ; Leipsic, 

1855, 1858. (See Lecture XII.) 

4. Introduction to Orthodox Theology. By Macarius, Rector of the 

Ecclesiastical Academy at St. Petersburg. Translated into French. 

On more special subjects : 


1. Bibliotheca Oricntalis, vol. iv. (Assemanni.) 

2. The Nestorians and their Rituals. By the Rev. G. P. Badger. 


I. Hist. d'Armlnic et tfEthiopie et des Indes. By Mathurin de La 

Croze. (French merchant and scholar.) 1661 1739. 
. 2. Haxthausen's Trans- Caucasia. Translated into English. 1854. 

3. Histoire, Dogmes, Traditions, et Liturgie de PEglise Armtniane. 

By E. Dulaurier. Paris, 1859. 


1. Bibliotheca Orient, vol. ii. (Assemanni.) 

2. The Syrian Churches. By J. W. Etheridge. 1846. 


1. Annales Patriarcharum Alexandrinorum. By Eutychius. (See 

p. 98.) 

2. Renaudot's Historia Patriarcharum Jacobitarum. 1713. 

3. Lane's Modern Egyptians. (Supplement.) 1833. 

4. Sharpe's Egypt. (From the earliest times to the Arab conquest. 


5. Neale's Patriarchate of Alexandria. 2 vols. 8vo. 1847. 


1. La Croze (ut supra). 

2. Hist. ALthiopice. By Job Ludolf. (German lawyer.) 1624 1714. 

3. Harris's Highlands of Ethiopia. 1844. 


1. Mosheim. Instit. Hist. Eccles. p. 632. 

2. Chardin's Travels. Vol. i. pp. 171-174. 

3. A Russian History of Georgia (by M. Jossilian) is highly spoken of. 


1 . The Byzantine Historians. Edited by Niebuhr. 

2. Dufresne's Glossarium Med. et Injim. Grcscitatis. 

3. History of the Byzantine Empire. By G. Finlay. 1853. 

4. History of Greece, from 1453 to 1843. By G. Finlay. 1861. 

5. De Greeds Illustribus (the Greek scholars of the fifteenth century). 

By Humphrey Hody, D.D. 1742. 

54 Works for Reference 


See Prefaces to Lectures IX. X. XI. XII. 

For a summary history of the Eastern Church, see 

Gibbon, cc. 17, 20, 21, 23, 26-28, 32, 40, 47-49, 51, 54, 55, 60, 

61, 66-68. 

Gieseler's Ecclesiastical History (under the chapters, on "the Oriental 






THE Eastern Church occupies a vast field of Ecclesiastical 
History. But it is a field rather of space than of time. It is 
marked out rather by tracts of land and races of men than 
by successive epochs in the progress of events, of ideas, or 
of characters. Hence has arisen the frequent remark that, 
properly speaking, the Eastern Church has no history. The 
nations which it embraces have been, for the most part, so 
stationary, and their life so monotonous, that they furnish few 
subjects of continuous narration. The influence which it has 
exercised on the onward course of religious opinion has been 
so slight, that by tacit consent it has almost dropped out of the 
notice of ecclesiastical historians. The languages in which its 
records and its literature are composed are such as to repel even 
the learned classes of the West ; even the Greek dialect of the 
East after the sixth century becomes almost intolerable to the 
eye and the ear of the classical student. Its system has 
produced hardly any permanent works of practical Christian 
benevolence. With very few exceptions, its celebrated names 
are invested with no stirring associations. It seems to open 
a field of interest to travellers and antiquarians, not to 
philosophers or historians. 

Is there anything in such a subject to repay the labour or 
even the attention of a theological student? Had we not 
better pass on at once to more fertile and more genial regions ? 
Can any Englishman, can any Protestant, nay, can any 
European, be fairly asked to look backwards on a field which 
the course of civilisation seems to have left far behind ? 

All this and much more may be said. Yet, on these very 
grounds, I feel that the Professor of Ecclesiastical History is 
bound, if possible, once for all, to cast that one backward 


56 The Divisions of 

glance, before he moves onward. Once plunged in the tur- 
moil of the West, he will have no leisure to turn to the repose 
of the East. And further, although few may enter into the 
details of its history or constitution, there are some general 
points of view from which the Eastern Church may be 
profitably considered. Out of the blank which the larger part 
of its annals presents, emerge some salient scenes and epochs 
which beyond question touch the universal destinies of 
mankind. There are some peculiar reasons why the study 
even of the near West may always gain by the study of the 
distant East. 

This general view of the Oriental Church these leading 
divisions in its history these reasons for devoting a short 
space to its study it will be my endeavour to set forth in the 
present Lecture. 

I. I have said that the field of Eastern Christendom is a 
comparatively untrodden field. It is out of sight, and there- 
fore out of mind. But there is a wise German proverb which 
tells us that it is good, from time to time, to be reminded 
that "Behind the mountains there are people to be found." 
" Hinter dem Berge sind auch Leute." This, true of all large 
bodies of the human family from whom we are separated by 
natural or intellectual divisions, is eminently true of the whole 
branch of the Christian family that lies in the far East. Behind 
the mountains of our knowledge, of our civilisation, of our 
activity behind the mountains, let us also say, of our 
ignorance, of our prejudice, of our contempt, is to be found 
nearly a third part of Christendom one hundred millions of 
souls professing the Christian faith. Even if we enter no 
further into their history, it is important to remember that they 
are there. No theory of the Christian Church can be complete 
which does not take some account of their existence. The 
proper distances, the lights and shades of the foreground which 
we ourselves occupy, of the prospect which we ourselves over- 
look, cannot be rightly represented without bearing in mind 
the enormous, dark, perhaps unintelligible, masses which form 
the background that closes the retrospect of our view. 

But the Oriental Church has claims to be considered over 
and above its magnitude and its obscurity. By whatever name 
we call it "Eastern," "Greek," or "Orthodox" it carries us 
back, more than any other existing Christian institution, to the 
earliest scenes and times of the Christian religion. Even 
though the annals of the Oriental Patriarchates are, for the 

the Eastern Church 57 

most part, as regards the personal history of their occupants, 
a series of unmeaning names, the recollections awakened by 
the seats of their power are of the most august kind. Jerusalem, 
Antioch, Alexandria, are centres of local interest which none 
can see or study without emotion. And the Churches which 
have sprung up in those regions retain the ancient customs of 
the East, and of the primitive age of Christianity, long after 
they have died out everywhere else. Look for a moment 
at the countries included within the range of the Oriental 
Churches. What they lose in historical they gain in geo- 
graphical grandeur. Their barbarism and their degradation 
have bound them to the local peculiarities from which the 
more progressive Church of the West has shaken itself free. 
It is a Church, in fact, not of cities and villages, but of 
mountains, and rivers, and caves, and dens of the earth. The 
eye passes from height to height, and rests on the successive 
sanctuaries in which the religion of the East has intrenched 
itself, as within huge natural fortresses, against its oppressors 
Athos in Turkey, Sinai in Arabia, Mar Saba in Palestine, 
Ararat in Armenia, the Cedars of Lebanon, the catacombs of 
KierT, the cavern of Megaspelion, the cliffs of Meteora. Or we 
see it advancing up and down the streams, or clinging to the 
banks of the mighty rivers which form the highways and 
arteries of the wide plains of the East. The Nile still holds 
its sacred place in the liturgies of Egypt. The Jordan, from 
Constantine downwards, has been the goal of every Eastern 
pilgrim. Up the broad stream of the Dnieper sail the first 
apostles of Russia. Along the Volga and the Don cluster the 
mysterious settlements of Russian nonconformity. 

In this natural framework with that strong identity of 
religion and race so familiar to the East, so difficult to be 
understood in the West may be traced three main groups of 
Churches, which we will proceed to distinguish. 

i. The first group contains those isolated fragments of an 
earlier Christendom which emerge here and there from the 
midst of Mahometanism and heathenism in Africa and Further 
Asia. In the strict language of ancient theology they must 
(with one exception) be called heretical sects. But they are 
in fact the National Churches of their respective countries 
protesting against the supposed innovations 1 of the see of 

1 It must be remarked that a confusion runs through all these Churches 
from a tripartite division, growing out of their relations with the Churches 
from which they have parted, or which have parted from them : i. The 

58 The Divisions of 

Constantinople, and holding with a desperate fidelity to forms 
and doctrines of earlier date. Easternmost of all the Eastern 
Churches, easternmost in thought and custom always, and 
usually easternmost in situation also, they supply, in the wild 
and romantic interest of their position and of their habits, their 
almost total want of theological literature or historical events. 
The characteristic fable of Prester John the invisible Apostle 
of Asia the imperial priestly potentate in the remote East, or 
the remote South, 1 fills up in their traditions the vacant space 
which in Europe was occupied by the Pope of Rome, and the 
Emperor of Constantinople. 

(a) The " Chaldean Christians," 2 called by their opponents 
"Nestorians," are the most remote of these old separatists. 
Only the two first councils, those of Nicaea and Constanti- 
nople, have weight with them. The third of Ephesus 
already presents the stumblingblock of the decree which 
condemned Nestorius. Living in the secluded fastnesses of 
Kurdistan, they represent the persecuted remnant of the 
ancient Church of Central Asia. They trace their descent 
to the eafliest of all Christian missions the mission of 
Thaddseus to Abgarus. Their sacred city of Edessa is 
identical with the cradle of all ecclesiastical history the 
traditional birthplace of Abraham. In their present seclu- 
sion they have been confounded, perhaps 3 have confounded 
themselves, with the lost tribes of Israel. In their earlier 
days they sent forth missions on a scale exceeding those of 
any Western Church except the see of Rome in the sixth and 
sixteenth centuries, and for the time redeeming the Eastern 
Church from the usual reproach of its negligence in propa- 

National or so-called heretical Church of each country. 2. The Orthodox 
branch of each Church, in communion with the see of Constantinople, 
called in the Eastern languages "the Church of Rome" (see p. 66). 
3. The "United/ 3 or "Catholic" branch, consisting of converts to the 
Roman Catholic Church. As a usual rule, most writers of the Greek or 
Orthodox Church, as well as of our own, in speaking of these Churches, 
mean only the second of these two divisions ; most writers of the Roman 
Catholic Church only the third. For the sake of perspicuity, I confine 
myself in each case to the first or national division in each of the groups of 
which I speak. A masterly sketch of these heretical communions, with 
the main authorities on each, is found in Gibbon, c. xlvii. One exception 
to this classification will be noticed further on. The Georgian Church is 
both National and Orthodox. 

1 See Neale's Introduction, i. 114. 

2 See Neale, i. 145 ; Layard's Nineveh, i. 240. 
8 Asahel Grant's Nestorians, 109. 

the Eastern Church 59 

gating the Gospel. Their chief assumed the splendid title of 
"Patriarch of Babylon," and their missionaries traversed the 
whole of Asia, as far eastward as China, as far southward as 
Ceylon. One colony alone remains of this ancient dominion, 
in extent even greater than the Papacy. The Christians of 
S. Thomas, as they are called, are still clustered round the 
tomb of S. Thomas, whether the Apostle, or the Nestorian 
merchant of the same name who restored if he did not found 
the settlement. In the ninth century they attracted the notice 
of Alfred, and, in the sixteenth century, of the Portuguese, and 
it was in reaction from the missionaries of Portugal that they 
finally exchanged their Nestorianism for the Monophysitism of 
Egypt and Syria. 1 

(b) The Armenians 2 are by far the most powerful, and 
the most widely diffused, in the group of purely Oriental 
Churches of which we are now speaking, and as such exer- 
cise a general influence over all of them. Their home is the 
mountain tract that encircles Ararat. 3 But, though distinct 
from all surrounding nations, they yet are scattered far and 
wide through the whole Levant, extending their episcopate, 
and carrying on at the same time the chief trade of Asia. 
A race, a church, of merchant princes, they are in quietness, 
in wealth, in steadiness, the " Quakers " of the East, the 
"Jews," if one may so call them, of the Oriental Church. 
They were converted by Gregory the Illuminator in the 
fourth century, whose dead hand is still used for continuing 
the succession of the patriarchs. The seat of the patriarchate 
is Etchmiazin, their sacred city. 4 Their canonical scriptures 
include two books in the Old and two in the New Testament 
acknowledged by no other Church ; the history of Joseph and 
Asenath, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Epistle 
of the Corinthians to S. Paul, and the third Epistle of S. Paul 
to the Corinthians. 5 Of the extreme Oriental Churches, they 

1 See Neale, i. 145 ; Buchanan's Christian Researches, 76 ; Swanston's 
Memoirs in Journal of Asiatic Researches, i. 129, ii. 235, iv. 235, 248. 

2 Neale, i. 65, 104. "The Armenian nation is widespread and 
numerous as the waves of the sea. It is said to number fifteen millions 
of souls. 'This may be an exaggeration ; but the existence of more than 
eight millions we assert with confidence." Haxihauserts Transcaucasia, 
298, 325- 

3 For the appearance and traditions of Ararat, see Haxthausen's Trans- 
caucasia, 190, 323. 

4 Haxthausen, 283, 289, 304. 
6 Curzon's Armenia, 225. 

60 The Divisions of 

furnish, by their wide dispersion, the closest links with the 
West. The boundary of Russia runs across Mount Ararat. 
The Protestant and the Papal missionaries have won from 
them the most numerous converts. They call themselves 
orthodox. They are divided from the Constantinopolitan 
Church by an almost imperceptible difference, arising, it is 
said, out of the accidental absence of the Armenian bishops 
from the Council of Chalcedon, whose decrees were therefore 
never understood, and therefore never received. 

(c) The Church of Syria is the oldest of all the Gentile 
Churches. 1 In its capital, Antioch, the name of " Christians " 
first arose : in the age of persecution it produced Ignatius, 
and, in the age of the Empire, John Chrysostom and John 
of Damascus. In the claim of Antioch to be founded by 
S. Peter, the Eastern Church 2 has often regarded itself as 
possessing whatever privileges can be claimed by the see of 
Rome on the ground of descent from the first Apostle. The 
city itself became "the city of God." To the chief pastor 
of Antioch alone in the world by right belongs the title of 
"Patriarch." 3 The purely national Church of Syria is re- 
presented by two very different communions. The first is 
the Jacobite 4 or Monophysite Church, of which the patriarch 
resides at Diarbekir. It has one peculiar custom, the trans- 
mission of the same name from prelate to prelate. The 
patriarch, doubtless after the first illustrious Bishop of 
Antioch, is always called Ignatius. The other communion 
of Syria is, in like manner, the representative both of a sect 
and a nation. The Maronites, 5 so called from their founder 
Maro in the fifth century, comprise at once the only relics 
of the old Monothelite heretics, and the greater part of the 
Christian population of Mount Lebanon. Their convents 
overhang the Kadisha, the "Holy River" of the Lebanon, 

1 The Church of Palestine can hardly be reckoned among the Churches 
of the East which I am here considering. It is a mere colony of the 
Greek Church, and its Patriarch, with the Greek Patriarchs of Antioch 
and Alexandria, resides at Constantinople. Neale, i. 159. 

2 Travels of Macarius, 222, 224. (For this work see Lecture XI.) 

3 Neale, i. 126. 

4 Ibid. 152, 153. In the doubtful derivation of their name from James 
the Apostle, or James the heresiarch of the sixth century, there is the same 
ambiguity as in the Christians of S. Thomas. 

5 Ibid. 153. An interesting account of the Maronites, highly illustrative 
of their connection with the French, as representatives of the Latin Church, 
is given in the Journal of the Comte de Paris. (Damas et le Liban, 
PP- 75-78.) 

the Eastern Church 61 

which derives its name probably from this monastic conse- 
cration. The Cedars are under their especial charge. But 
their main peculiarity is this, that, alone of all the Eastern 
Churches, they have retained the close communion with the 
Latin Church which they adopted in the twelfth century 
through the Crusaders. Their allegiance is given to the see 
of Rome, and their learning has borne fruit in the West, 
through the labours of the two Assemans. They have lately 
acquired a more tragical claim on our interest through the 
atrocities perpetrated on their villages by their ancient 
hereditary enemies the Druses, provoked, it may be, but 
certainly not excused, by Maronite aggression, or Latin 

(d) In the times of the early councils the Churches of 
Syria and Egypt were usually opposed : now they are 
united under the common theological name of Monophysite. 
Both alike take their stand, not on the four, but on the three 
first Councils, and reject the decrees of Chalcedon, and 
protest against the heterodoxy, not only of the whole West, 
but of the whole East besides themselves. But the Church of 
Egypt is much more than the relic of an ancient sect. It is 
the most remarkable monument of Christian antiquity. It 
is the only living representative of the most venerable nation of 
all antiquity. Within its narrow limits have now shrunk the 
learning and the lineage of ancient Egypt. The language of 
the Coptic services, understood neither by people nor priests, 
is the language, although debased, of the Pharaohs. The 
Copts are still, even in their degraded state, the most civilised 
of the natives : the intelligence of Egypt still lingers in the 
Coptic scribes, who are, on this account, used as clerks in the 
offices of their conquerors, or as registrars of the water-marks 
of the Nile. 

They also represent the proud Church of old Alexandria. 
Alexandria, though a Grecian city, still was deeply coloured by 
its Egyptian atmosphere. Its old Coptic name of " Rhacotis " 
still lingers in the Coptic liturgies and versions of Scripture. 
The fanaticism of its populace was not Greek but Egyptian. 
And in turn the peculiarities of the Alexandrian Church have 
become the national war-cries of Egypt. The " Monophysite " 
heresy of the Copts is an exaggeration of the orthodoxy of 
Athanasius and Cyril. For this they denied the "human 
nature of Christ ; " for this they broke off from the Byzantine 
empire, and ultimately surrendered to the Saracens. The 

62 The Divisions of 

Patriarch of Alexandria now resides at Cairo. 1 There is still, 
as in the first ages, a wide distinction between the bishops and 
their head. He alone has the power of ordination : they, if 
they ordain at all, act only as his vicars. The Coptic Church 
alone confers ordination, not by imposition of hands, but by 
the act of breathing. Alone also it has succeeded in preventing 
the translation of bishops, 2 and preserves, in the most rigid 
form, the nolo episcopari of the patriarch. 3 

In the universal kiss interchanged throughout the whole of 
a Coptic congregation; in the prominent part taken by the 
children, who act as deacons ; in the union of social intercourse 
with worship ; in the turbaned heads and unshod feet of the 
worshippers, the Coptic service breathes an atmosphere of 
Oriental and of primitive times found in none of the more 
northern Churches even of the East. 

But there is a daughter of the Coptic Church, yet farther 
south, which is the extremest type of what may be called 
Oriental ultramontanism. The Church of Abyssinia, founded 
in the fourth century by the Church of Alexandria, furnishes 
the one example of a nation savage yet Christian ; showing us, 
on the one hand, the force of the Christian faith in main- 
taining its superiority at all against such immense disadvantages, 
and, on the other hand, the utmost amount of superstition 
with which a Christian Church can be overlaid without perish- 
ing altogether. One lengthened communication it has hitherto 
received from the West the mission of the Jesuits. With this 
exception it has been left almost entirely to itself. Whatever 
there is of Jewish or of old Egyptian ritual preserved in the 
Coptic Church, is carried to excess in the Abyssinian. The 
likeness of the sacred ark, 4 called the ark of Zion, is the centre 
of Abyssinian devotion. To it gifts and prayers are offered. 
On it the sanctity of the whole Church depends. Circumcision 
is not only practised, as in the Coptic Church, but is regarded 
as of equal necessity with baptism. There alone the Jewish 
Sabbath is still observed as well as the Christian Sunday: 6 

1 The ancient titles of Pope and CEcumenical Judge seem now to belong, 
not to the Coptic, but to the Greek Patriarch of Alexandria. For the title 
* ' Pope " see Lecture III. The title of (Ecumenical Judge is derived ( i ) from 
the right of the Alexandrian Church to fix the period of Easter (see Lecture 
V. ), or (2) from Cyril's presidency in the Council of Ephesus. 

2 Neale's Introd. i. 1 12, 119 ; Church of Alexandria, ii. 99-102. 

3 See Lecture VII. 

4 Harris's Ethiopia, iii. 132, 135, 137, 150, 156, 164. 
* See Gobat's Abyssinia. 

the Eastern Church 63 

they (with the exception of a small sect 1 of the Seventh-day " 
Baptists) are the only true "Sabbatarians" of Christendom. 
The " sinew that shrank," no less than the flesh of swine, hare, 
and aquatic fowl, is still forbidden to be eaten. Dancing still 
forms part of their ritual, as it did in the Jewish temple. The 
wild shriek which goes up at Abyssinian funerals is the exact 
counterpart of that which Herodotus heard in ancient Egypt. 
The polygamy of the Jewish Church lingers here after having 
been banished from the rest of the Christian world. 

Whatever, it may be added, of extravagant ritualism, of 
excessive dogmatism, of the fatal division between religion and 
morality, disfigures to so large an extent the rest of Oriental 
Christianity, is seen in its most striking form in the usages of 
Abyssinia. The endless controversies respecting the natures 
of Christ, which have expired elsewhere, still rage in that 
barbarous country. 2 The belief in the efficacy of external rites 
to wash away sins is carried there to a pitch without a parallel. 
The greatest festival of all the year is the vast lustration, almost 
amounting to an annual baptism of the whole nation, 3 on the 
feast of Epiphany. One saint, elsewhere unrecognised, appears 
in the Ethiopian calendar ; Pilate is canonised, because he 
washed his hands and said, " I am innocent of the blood of 
this just man." 4 The moral creed of Abyssinia is said to be 
thus summed up : 

" That the Alexandrian faith is the only true belief. 

" That faith, together with baptism, is sufficient for justification ; 
but that God demands alms and fasting as amends for sin com- 
mitted prior to the performance of the baptismal rite. 

" That unchristened children are not saved. 

" That the baptism of water is the true regeneration. 

" That invocation ought to be made to the saints, because sinning 
mortals are unworthy 'to appear in the presence of God, and 
because, if the saints be well loved, they will listen to all prayer. 

" That every sin is forgiven from the moment that the kiss of the 
pilgrim is imprinted on the stones of Jerusalem ; and that kissing 
the handof a priest purifies the body in like manner. 

" That sins must be confessed to the priest, saints invoked, and 
full faith reposed in charms and amulets, more especially if written 
in an unkfiown tongue. 

" That prayers for the dead are necessary, and absolution indis- 
pensable ; but that the souls of the departed do not immediately 

1 From this sect, I am told, a deputation went in 1853 to preach their 
peculiar doctrine to the Taepings in China. 

2 Harris, iii. 190. 3 Ibid. iii. 202. 4 Neale, i. 806. 

6 4 

The Divisions of 

enter upon a state of happiness, the period being in exact accord- 
ance with the alms and prayers that are expended upon earth." 

This may have been coloured in passing through the mind 
of the European traveller. But his consciousness of the 
wretched state of the Church which he describes, gives more 
weight to the words of hope with which he concludes 1 his 
account : 

" Abyssinia, as she now is, presents the most singular compound 
of vanity, meekness, and ferocity ; of devotion, superstition, and 
ignorance. But, compared with other nations of Africa, she un- 
questionably holds a high station. She is superior in arts and in 
agriculture, in laws, religion, and social condition, to all the 
benighted children of the sun. The small portion of good which 
does exist may justly be ascribed to the remains of the wreck of 
Christianity, which, although stranded on a rocky shore, and 
buffeted by the storms of ages, is not yet wholly overwhelmed ; and 
from the present degradation of a people avowing its tenets, may be 
inferred the lesson of the total inefficacy of its forms and profession, 
if unsupported by enough of mental culture to enable its spirit and 
its truth to take root in the heart, and bear fruits in the character of 
the barbarian. There is, perhaps, no portion of the whole continent 
to which European civilisation might be applied with better ultimate 
results ; and although now dwindled into an ordinary kingdom, 
Hdbesh, under proper government and proper influence, might 
promote the amelioration of all the surrounding people, whilst she 
resumed her original position as the first of African monarchies." 

(e) There is one of these remote Eastern Churches, which 
still maintains its original connection with the Orthodoxy of 
Constantinople the Church and kingdom, called by the 
ancients "Iberia," by the moderns "Gruzia" or "Georgia." 2 
The conversion of their king, through the example or the 
miracles of Nina, a Christian captive, was nearly simultaneous 
with that of Constantine. Originally dependent on Antioch, 
its allegiance was transferred to Constantinople. The nation 
bore a considerable part in the Crusades, and memorials of its 
princes long remained in the convents both of Palestine and 
of Athos. At the beginning of this century Georgia was 
annexed to Russia. 3 

2. We are thus brought to the next group in Eastern 
Christendom, the Orthodox Imperial Church, which some- 
times gives its name to the whole. It is " the Great Church " 

1 Harris, iii. 186. 2 See Neale, i. 61-65. 

3 Ibid. i. 26-31. 

the Eastern Church 65 

(as it is technically called) from which those which we have 
hitherto described have broken off, and those which we shall 
proceed to describe have been derived. 

The "Greek Church," properly so called, includes the 
widespread race which speaks the Greek language, from its 
southernmost outpost in the desert of Mount Sinai, through 
all the islands and coasts of the Levant and the Archipelago ; 
having its centre in Greece and in Constantinople. It re- 
presents to us, in however corrupt and degraded a form, the 
old, glorious, world-inspiring people of Athens, Thebes, and 
Sparta. It is the means by which that people has been 
kept alive through four centuries of servitude. It was no 
Philhellenic enthusiast, but the grey-headed Germanus, 
Archbishop of Patras, who raised the standard of Greek 
independence : the first champion of that cause of Grecian 
liberty, in behalf of which in our own country the past 
generation was so zealous, and the present generation is 
so indifferent. The sanctuary of the Greek race, which 
is in a great degree the sanctuary and refuge of the whole 
Eastern Church, is Athos "the Holy Mountain." 1 The 
old Greek mythology which made the peak of Samothrace 
the seat of the Pelasgic worship, and the many-headed 
range of Olympus the seat of the Hellenic gods, left the 
beautiful peninsula and noble pyramid of Athos to receive 
the twenty monasteries which shelter the vast communities 
of Greek, Ionian, Bulgarian, Servian, and Russian monks. 

The Greek Church reminds us of the time when the tongue, 
not of Rome, but of Greece, was the sacred language of 
Christendom. It was a striking remark of the Emperor 
Napoleon, that the introduction of Christianity itself was, in 
a certain sense, the triumph of Greece over Rome; the last 
and most signal instance of the maxim of Horace, "Grsecia 
capta ferum victorem cepit." 2 The early Roman Church 
was but a colony of Greek Christians or Grecised Jews. 
The earliest Fathers of the Western Church, Clemens, 
Irenaeus, Hermas, Hippolytus, wrote in Greek. The early 
Popes were not Italians but Greeks. The name of " Pope " 
is not Latin but Greek the common and now despised 
name of every pastor in the Eastern Church. It is true that 

1 See Urquhart's Spirit of the East, 157, 169, and an excellent descrip- 
tion in the Christian Remembrancer, xxi. 288. 

2 Bertrand's Memoirs of Napoleon, i. 206. Compare Dean Milman's 
Latin Christianity, i. 27. 


66 The Divisions of 

this Grecian colour was in part an accidental consequence of 
the wide diffusion of the Greek language by Alexander's 
conquests through the East, and was thus a sign not so 
much of the Hellenic, as of the Hebrew and Oriental char- 
acter of the early Christian communities. But the advantage 
thus given to the Byzantine Church has never been lost or 
forgotten. It is a perpetual witness that she is the mother 
and Rome the daughter. It is her privilege to claim a 
direct continuity of speech with the earliest times, to boast 
of reading the whole code of Scripture, old as well as new, 
in the language in which it was read and spoken by the 
Apostles. The humblest peasant who reads his Septuagint 
or Greek Testament in his own mother tongue, on the 
hills of Bceotia, may proudly feel that he has an access 
to the original oracles of divine truth, which Pope and 
Cardinal reach by a barbarous and imperfect translation; 
that he has a key of knowledge, which in the West is only 
to be found in the hands of the learned classes. 

The Greek Church is thus the only living representative 
of the Hellenic race, and speaks in the only living voice 
which has come down to us from tfce Apostolic age. But 
its main characteristic is its lineal descent from the first 
Christian Empire. "Romaic," not '"Hellenic," is the name 
by which, from its long connection with the Roman Empire 
of Byzantium, the language of Greece is now known. 
"Roman" ('Pco/mtos), not "Greek," is the name by which 
(till quite recently) a Greek would have distinguished him- 
self from the Mussulman population around him. "The 
Church of Rome," in the language of the far East, is not, 
as with us, the Latin Church, but the community which 
adheres to the orthodox faith of the " New Rome " of Con- 
stantinople. Not Athens, not Alexandria, not even Jeru- 
salem, but Constantinople, is the sacred city to which the 
eyes of the Greek race and of the Eastern Church are turned 
at this day. We can hardly doubt that it was the point to 
which the eyes of the whole Christian world were turned, 
when at the opening of the fourth century it rose as the 
first Christian city, at the command of the first Christian 
Emperor, on a site which, by its unequalled advantages, was 
naturally marked out as the capital of a new world, as the 
inauguration of a new era. 1 The subsequent rise of the 

1 See Lecture VI. 

the Eastern Church 67 

Papal city on the ruins of the old Pagan metropolis must 
not blind us to the fact that there was a period in which the 
Eastern and not the Western Rome was the true centre of 
Christendom. The modern grandeur of S. Peter's must not 
be permitted to obscure the effect which was produced on 
the taste and the feelings of the sixth century by the 
erection of S. Sophia. The learning of the Greek Church, 
which even down to the eleventh century excelled that of 
the Latin, in the fifteenth century directly contributed more 
than any other single cause to the revival of letters and the 
German Reformation. In Asia and in Constantinople it 
has long sunk under the barbarism of its conquerors. But 
in the little kingdom of independent Greece, the Greek 
clergy is still, within narrow limits, an enlightened body. In 
it, if in any portion of Eastern Christendom, lives the liberal, 
democratic spirit of ancient Hellas. Athens, with all the 
drawbacks of an ill-adjusted union between new and old ways 
of thought, is now the centre of education and improvement 
to the Greek clergy throughout the Levant. 

3. The third group of the Eastern Church consists of 
those barbarian tribes of the North, whose conversion by the 
Byzantine Church corresponds to the converson of the 
Teutonic tribes by the Latin Church. 

(a) The first division embraces the tribes on the banks^of 
the Lower Danube; the Sclavonic Bulgaria and Servia on 
the South ; the Latin or Romanic Wallachia and Moldavia 
on the north. 1 Bulgaria, which was the first to receive 
Christianity from the preaching of Cyril and Methodius in 
the ninth century, communicated it to the three 2 others. 
Servia has since become independent of Constantinople, 
under a metropolitan or patriarch of its own, and in the 
reign of Stephen Dushan, in the twelfth century, presented 
a miniature of an Eastern Christian Empire. The Church 
of Wallachia and Moldavia is remarkable as being of Latin 
origin, yet Greek in doctrine and ritual; a counterpoise to 
the two Churches of Bohemia and Poland, which, being 
Sclavonic by race, are Latin by religion. To these national 
communities should be added the extensive colony of Greek 
Christians who, under the name of "Raitzen," occupy large 

1 Neale, i. 46, 47, 69. 

2 The relations of the Bulgarian to the Byzantine Church are well stated, 
though from a one-sided point of view, in a Greek pamphlet published at 
Constantinople by Gregory, Chief Secretary of the Synod. 

68 The Divisions of 

districts in Hungary, and form the extreme westernmost 
outposts of the Eastern Church. The ecclesiastical as well 
as the political importance of these several religious bodies 
has almost entirely turned on the position which they occupy 
on the frontier land of the West and East. This is an im- 
portance which will doubtless increase with each succeeding 
generation. But in their past ecclesiastical history, the only 
epochs fruitful of instruction will probably be found in the 
more stirring moments of Servian history, 1 and in the con- 
version 2 of Bulgaria. 

(b) There remains the far wider field of the Church of Russia. 

If Oriental Christendom is bound to the past by its Asiatic 
and its Greek traditions, there can be no doubt that its bond 
of union with the present and the future is through the greatest 
of Sclavonic nations, whose dominion has now spread over the 
whole East of Europe, over the whole North of Asia, over a 
large tract of Western America. If Constantinople be the 
local centre of the Eastern Church, its personal head is, and 
has been for four, centuries, the great potentate who, under the 
successive names of Grand-Prince, Czar, and Emperor, has 
reigned at Moscow and St. Petersburg. Not merely by its 
proximity of geographical situation, but by the singular gift of 
imitation with which the Sclavonic race has been endowed, 
is the Russian Church the present representative of the old 
Imperial Church of Constantine. The Sclavonic alphabet is 
Greek. The Russian names of emperor, saint, and peasant 
are Greek. Sacred buildings, which in their actual sites in the 
East have been altered by modern innovations, are preserved 
for our study in the exact models made from them in earlier 
days by Russian pilgrims. 3 And in like manner, customs and 
feelings which have perished in Greece and Syria, may still be 
traced in the churches and monasteries of the North. When 
Napoleon called Alexander I., in bitter scorn, a Greek of the 
Lower Empire, it was a representation of the Czar's position in 
a fuller sense than Napoleon intended or would have admitted. 
For good or for evil, as a check on its development or as a 
spur to its ambition, the Church and Empire of Russia have 
inherited the religion and the policy of the New Rome of the 
Bosphorus far more fully than any western nation, even under 
Charlemagne himself, inherited the spirit or the forms of the 
Old Rome beside the Tiber. 4 

1 See Ranke's Hist, of Servia. 2 See Lecture IX. 

8 See Lecture XI. 4 See Lecture IX. 

the Eastern Church 69 

II. These are the geographical landmarks of the Eastern 
Church. What are its historical landmarks ? From the dead 
level of obscure names which these vast limits enclose, what 
leading epochs or series of events can be selected of universal 
and enduring importance? 

1. The first great display of the forces of the Oriental 
Church was in the period of the early Councils. The first 
seven General Councils, with all their leading characters, were 
as truly Eastern Councils, as truly the pride of the Eastern 
Church, as those of Constance and Trent are of the Western. 
Almost all were held within the neighbourhood, most under 
the walls, of Byzantium. All were swayed by the language, by 
the motives, by the feelings, of the Eastern world. 

Yet these Oriental Councils were "general," were "CEcu- 
menical," in a sense which fairly belonged to none besides. 
No Western Council has so fully expressed the voice of 
Christendom, no assembly, civil or ecclesiastical, can claim 
to have issued laws which have been so long in force in so 
large a portion of the civilised world, as those which emanated 
from these ancient parliaments of the Byzantine Empire. 
And if many of their decrees have now become virtually 
obsolete, yet those of the first and most characteristic of the 
seven are still cherished throughout the East, and through a 
large portion of the West. If with Armenia and Egypt we 
stumble at the decrees of Chalcedon, if with the Chaldsean 
and Lutheran Churches we are startled by the language of 
the fathers of Ephesus, if with the Latins we alter the creed 
of Constantinople, yet Christendom, with but few exceptions, 
receives the confession of the first Council of Nicaea as the 
earliest, the most solemn, and the most universal expression 
of Christian theology. In that assembly the Church and 
Empire first met in peaceful conference : the confessors of 
the Diocletian persecution came into contact with the first 
prelates of an established church; the father of dogmatical 
theology and the father of ecclesiastical history met for the 
first time in the persons of Athanasius and Eusebius. The 
General, Council of Nicaea may be considered both as the 
most significant of all the seven, and also as the most striking 
scene, the most enduring monument of the Oriental Church 
at large. 1 

2. It is characteristic of Eastern history, that we cannot 

1 See Lectures II. III. IV. V. 

70 The Epochs of 

lay it out, as in the West, by regular chronological periods. 
The second epoch of universal importance in Eastern Christen- 
dom, is the birth and growth of Mahometanism. All great 
religious movements, which run parallel, even though counter, 
to Christianity, form a necessary part of ecclesiastical history. 
But the religion of Mahomet is essentially interwoven with 
the Eastern Church. Even without considering the directly 
Christian influences to which the Arabian teacher was sub- 
jected, no one can doubt that there are points which his 
system, in common with that of the Eastern Church, owes 
to its Oriental origin. In other points it is a rebound and 
reaction against that Church, The history of the Greek and 
Sclavonic races can only be understood by bearing in mind 
their constant conflict with the Arabs, the Tartars, and the 
Turks. 1 

3. The conversion and establishment of the Russian Church, 
and through the Russian Church of the Russian Empire, forms 
the third and most fertile epoch of the history of Oriental 

It is enough to indicate the successive stages in the growth 
of the Empire, the rise and fall of the Patriarchate, the 
tragical struggle of Alexis and Nicon, the singular develop- 
ment of Russian dissent, the career and character of Peter 
the Great, hardly less remarkable in its religious than in its 
civil aspect. Every one of these events teems with dramatic, 
some with European interest, and every one of them is bound 
up with the history of the national Church, and therefore with 
the history of Eastern Christianity. 2 

III. These, then, are the principal divisions of the history, 
properly so called. But before considering any single period 
apart from the rest, it is important to observe the character- 
istics which, more or less, are common to all the parts alike, 
and which distinguish them all from the portion of Christen- 
dom to which we ourselves belong, whether we give to it the 
narrower name of the Latin, or the truer and more compre- 
hensive title of the Western Church. In considering these 
differences, it is not my intention to speak of the special points 
which led, in the twelfth century, to the actual external separa- 
tion between the Roman and Byzantine communions. The 
true differences between the East and the West existed long 
before their formal disruption, and would exist, in all proba- 

1 See Lecture VII. 2 See Lectures IX. X. XL XII. 

the Eastern Church 71 

bility, long after any formal reunion. The disruption itself 
was rather a consequence than a cause of their estrangement. 
The theological pretexts, such as the doctrine of the Double 
Procession, the usage of leavened l and unleavened bread, the 
excommunications of Photius and Michael Cerularius, and 
the failure of the last attempt at reconciliation in the Council 
of Florence, were themselves aggravated by more general 
grievances, 2 The jealousy of the two capitals of Rome and 
Constantinople; the rival claims of the Eastern and Western 
crusaders ; the outrage of the Fourth Crusade ; the antagonism 
of Russia in earlier times to Poland, in later times to France, 
have all contributed to the same result. But the internal 
differences lie deeper than any of these external manifesta- 
tions, whether theological or political. 

i. The distinction which has been most frequently re- 
marked is that of the speculative tendency of the Oriental, 
and the practical tendency of the Western Church. This 
distinction is deepseated in the contrast long ago described 
by Aristotle between the savage energy and freedom of 
Europe, and the intellectual repose and apathy of Asia. 3 It 
naturally finds its point and expression in the theology of the 
two Churches. Whilst the Western prides itself on the title of 
the "Catholic," the Eastern claims the title of "Orthodox." 4 
"The East," says Dean Milman, "enacted creeds, the West 
discipline." The first decree of an Eastern Council was to 
determine the relations of the Godhead. The first decree of 
the Pope 5 of Rome was to interdict the marriage of the clergy. 
All the first founders of theology were Easterns. Till the time 
of Augustine, no eminent divine had arisen in the West ; till 

1 See "Historia Concertationum de Pane Azymo et Fermentato," 1737, 
by J. G. Hermann, pastor of Pegau in Saxony. Jenkins' Life of Cardinal 
Julian, 302. 

2 For the enumeration of dates and events in connection with these periods 
of history, see the tabular statement at the end of this volume. 

3 Arist. Pol. vii. 7. 

4 The Eastern Church has a special celebration of "orthodoxy." On 
"Orthodox Sunday," at the beginning of Lent, the anathemas against 
heresy take the place of the curses on crimes and sins which mark the more 
practical -services of our Ash- Wednesday. For example: "To Jacobus 
Zanzalus the Armenian, Dioscorus Patriarch of Alexandria, to Severus the 
Impious, to Paul and Pyrrhus of the same mind with Sergius the disciple 
of Lycopetms Anathema, anathema, anathema." And on the other 
hand, "For the orthodox Greek Emperors Everlasting remembrance, 
everlasting remembrance, everlasting remembrance." Neale, ii. 874. 

5 The Decretal of Siricius, A.D. 385. (Milman's Latin Christianity, 
vol. i. 75.) 

72 The Characteristics of 

the time of Gregory the Great none had filled the Papal chair. 
The doctrine of Athanasius was received, not originated, by 
Rome. The great Italian Council of Ariminum lapsed into 
Arianism by an oversight. The Latin language was inadequate 
to express the minute shades of meaning for which the Greek 
is admirably fitted. Of the two creeds peculiar to the Latin 
Church, the earlier, that called " the Apostles'," is characterised 
by its simplicity and its freedom from dogmatic assertions ; the 
later, that called the Athanasian, as its name confesses, is an 
endeavour to imitate the Greek theology, and by the evident 
strain of its sentences reveals the ineffectual labour of the 
Latin phrases, "persona" and " substantia," to represent the 
correlative but hardly corresponding words by which the Greeks, 
with a natural facility, expressed "the hypostatic union." And 
still more, when we touch the period at which the divergence 
between the two Empires threw the two Churches farther apart, 
the tide of Grecian and Egyptian controversy hardly arrived 
at the shores of Italy, now high and dry above their reach. 

"Latin Christianity," says Dean Milman, "contemplated 
with almost equal indifference, Nestorianism and all its prolific 
race, Eutychianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism. While 
in this contest the two great patriarchates of the East, Con- 
stantinople and Alexandria, brought to issue, or strove to bring 
to issue, their rival claims to ascendency ; while council after 
council promulgated, reversed, re-enacted their conflicting de- 
crees ; while separate and hostile communities were formed in 
every region of the East, and the fear of persecuted Nestorian- 
ism, stronger than religious zeal, penetrated for refuge remote 
countries, into which Christianity had not yet found its way : 
in the West there was no Nestorian or Eutychian sect." 1 

Probably no Latin Christian has ever felt himself agitated 
even in the least degree by any one of the seventy opinions on 
the union of the two natures which are said to perplex the 
Church of Abyssinia. Probably the last and only question of 
this kind on which the Latin Church has spontaneously 
entered, is that of the Double Procession of the Spirit. The 
very word "theology" (0eoXoyia) arose from the peculiar 
questions agitated in the East. The Athanasian controversy 
of Constantinople and Alexandria is, strictly speaking, /to- 
logical ; unlike the Pelagian or the Lutheran controversies, it 
relates not to man, but to God. 

1 Latin Christianity, i. 137. 

the Eastern Church 73 

This fundamental contrast naturally widened into other 
cognate differences. The Western theology is essentially 
logical in form, and based on law. 1 The Eastern is rhetorical 
in form and based on philosophy. The Latin divine succeeded 
to the Roman advocate. The Oriental divine succeeded to 
the Grecian sophist. Out of the logical and legal elements 
in the West has grown up all that is most peculiar in 
the scholastic theology of the middle ages, the Calvinistic 
theology of the Reformation. To one or both of these causes 
of difference may be reduced many of the divergences which 
the theological student will trace in regard to dogmatic state- 
ments, or to interpretations 2 of Scripture, between Tertullian 
and Origen, between Prosper and Cassian, between Augus- 
tine and Chrysostom, between Thomas Aquinas and John 

The abstract doctrines of the Godhead in the Alexandrian 
creed took the place, in the minds of theological students, 
which, in the schools of philosophy, had been occupied by 
the abstract ideas of the Platonic system. The subtleties of 
Roman law as applied to the relations of God and man, which 
appear faintly in Augustine, more distinctly in Aquinas, more 
decisively still in Calvin and Luther, and, though from a 
somewhat larger point of view, in Grotius, are almost unknown 
to the East. "Forensic justification," "merit," "demerit," 
" satisfaction," " imputed righteousness," " decrees," represent 
ideas which in the Eastern theology have no predominant 
influence, hardly any words to represent them. The few 
exceptions that occur may be traced directly to accidental 
gusts of Western influence. 3 

Hence arises the apparent contradiction, that, whenever the 
Eastern theologians enter on topics which touch not the 

1 This is well put by Professor Maine (Ancient Law, 354-364. ) Com- 
pare Hampden's Bampton Lectures, 25. 

2 On this point I am anxious to acknowledge my obligations to the 
learning of the Rev. F. C. Cook, now Preacher of Lincoln's Inn. 

3 A curious exception occurs in the catechism of the Russian Church 
drawn up iy the present Metropolitan of Moscow, where the beatitude 
" Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness," is interpreted 
of "imputed righteousness." (Doctrine of the Russian Church, p. 112, 
translated by the Rev. W. Blackmore. ) But I am assured by the learned 
translator that this is an unaccountable and almost solitary instance of this 
mode of interpretation in the East. Another specimen of this exceptional 
theology is perhaps to be found in the account of Peter's deathbed. See 
Lecture XII. 

D 2 

74 The Characteristics of 

abstract questions of the Divine essence, but the human 
questions of grace and predestination, there is a more directly 
moral and practical tone than often in corresponding treatises 
of the Protestant West. Chrysostom's transcendent genius 
and goodness would doubtless have lifted him above the 
trammels of any local influence; but the admiration felt in 
the East for his thoroughly practical homilies, which in the 
West have often incurred the suspicion of Pelagianism, is 
a proof of the general tendency of the Church which he so 
powerfully represents. 

A single instance illustrates the Eastern tendency to a high 
theological view of the doctrine of the Trinity, combined with 
an absence of any precision of statement in regard to mediation 
or redemption. In the Western liturgies direct addresses to 
Christ are exceptions. In the East they are the rule. In the 
West, even in Unitarian liturgies, it is deemed almost essential 
that every prayer should be closed "through Jesus Christ." 
In the East, such a close is rarely, if ever, found. 1 

2. The contrast between the speculative tendency of the 
Eastern Church and the practical life of the Western, appears 
not only in the theological, but in the ecclesiastical, and espe- 
cially in the monastic, system of Oriental Christendom. 

No doubt monasticism was embraced by the Roman Church, 
even as early as the fifth century, with an energy which seemed 
to reproduce in a Christian form the dying genius of stoical 
philosophy. Still the East holds the chief place in the 
monastic world. The words which describe the state are not 
Latin but Greek or Syriac Hermit, monk, anchoret, monas- 
tery, coenobite, ascetic, abbot, abbey. It was not in the 
Apennines or on the Alps, but in the stony arms with which 
the Libyan and Arabian deserts enclose the valley of the Nile, 
that the first monasteries were founded. Anthony the Coptic 
hermit, from his retreat by the Red Sea, is the spiritual father 
of that vast community which has now overrun the world. His 
disciple, Athanasius, was its first sponsor in the West. And 
not only was monasticism born in the Eastern Church ; it has 
also thriven there with an unrivalled intensity. Indeed, the 
earliest source of monastic life is removed even further than 
the Thebaid deserts, in the Manichean repugnance of the 
distant East towards the material world, as it is exhibited 
under its simplest form in the Indian Yogi or the Mussulman 

1 Freeman, Principles of Divine Service, i. 373. 

the Eastern Church 75 

Fakir. It is this Oriental seclusion which, whether from 
character, or climate, or contagion, has to the Christian world 
been far more forcibly represented in the Oriental than in the 
Latin Church. The solitary and contemplative devotion of 
the Eastern monks, whether in Egypt or Greece, though broken 
by the manual labour necessary for their subsistence, has been 
very slightly modified either by literary or agricultural activity. 
There have, indeed, been occasional examples of splendid 
benevolence in Oriental monachism. The Egyptian monk, 
Telemachus, by the sacrifice of himself, extinguished the 
gladiatorial games at Rome. Russian hermits opposed the 
securest bulwark against the savage despotism of Ivan. 1 But 
these are isolated instances. As a general rule, there has 
arisen in the East no society like the Benedictines, held in 
honour wherever literature or civilisation has spread; no 
charitable orders, like the Sisters of Mercy, which carry light 
and peace into the darkest haunts of suffering humanity. 
Active life is, on the strict Eastern theory, an abuse of the 

Nor is it only in the monastic life that the severity of 
Eastern asceticism excels that of the West. Whilst the fasts 
of the Latin Church are mostly confined to Lent, liable, 
increasingly liable, to wide dispensations, exercised for the 
most part by abstinence, not from all food, but only from 
particular kinds of food, the fasts of the Eastern Church, 
especially of its most remarkable branch, the Coptic, extend 
through large periods of the year, are regarded as all but 
indispensable and, for the time, repudiate all sustenance, 
though with strange inconsistency they admit of drinking, 
even to the grossest intoxication. And, finally, the wildest 
individual excesses of a Bruno or a Dunstan seem poor beside 
the authorised, national, we may almost say imperial, adora- 
tion of the Pillar-saints of the East. Amidst all the contro- 
versies of the fifth century, on one religious subject the 
conflicting East maintained its unity, in the reverence of the 
Hermit on the Pillar. The West has never had a Simeon 

3. Another important difference between the two Churches 
was one which, though in substance the same, may be 
expressed in various forms. The Eastern Church was, like 
the East, stationary and immutable; the Western, like the 

1 See Lecture X. Compare Montalembert's Monks of the West, i. 

7 6 

The Characteristics of 

West, progressive and flexible. This distinction is the more 
remarkable, because, at certain periods of their course, there 
can be no doubt that the civilisation of the Eastern Church 
was far higher than that of the Western. No one can read 
the account of the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders 
of the thirteenth century, without perceiving that it is the 
occupation of a refined and civilised capital by a horde of 
comparative barbarians. The arrival of the Greek scholars in 
Europe in the fifteenth century was the signal for the most 
progressive step that Western theology has ever made. And 
in earlier ages, whilst it might still be thought that Rome, not 
Constantinople, was the natural refuge of the arts of the 
ancient classical world, the literature of the Church was almost 
entirely confined to the Byzantine hemisphere. Whilst 
Constantinople was ringing with the fame of preachers, of 
whom Chrysostom was the chief, but not the only example, 
the Roman bishops and clergy, till the time of Leo the Great, 
never publicly addressed their flocks from the pulpit. But, 
notwithstanding this occasional superiority, the Oriental 
Church, as a whole, almost from the time that it assumed a 
distinct existence, has given tokens of that singular immobility 
which is in great part to be traced to its Eastern origin its 
origin in those strange regions which still retain, not only 
the climate and vegetation, but the manners, the dress, the 
speech of the days of the Patriarchs and the Pharaohs. Its 
peculiar corruptions have been such as are consequent not on 
development but on stagnation ; its peculiar excellences have 
been such as belong to the simplicity of barbarism, not to the 
freedom of civilisation. 

The straws of custom show which way the spirit of an 
institution blows. The primitive posture of standing in prayer 
still retains its ground in the East, whilst in the West it is only 
preserved in the extreme Protestant communities by way of 
antagonism to Rome. Organs and musical instruments are 
as odious to a Greek or Russian, as to a Scottish Presbyterian. 
Jewish ordinances still keep their hold on Abyssinia. Even 
the schism 1 which convulsed the Russian Church nearly at the 
same time that Latin Christendom was rent by the German 
Reformation, was not a forward, but a retrograde movement a 
protest, not against abuses, but against innovation. The 
calendars of the Churches show the eagerness with which, 

1 See Lectures XI. and XII. 

the Eastern Church 77 

whilst the one, at least till a recent period, placed herself at the 
head of European civilisation, the other still studiously lags 
behind it. The " new style," which the world owes to the 
enlightened activity of Pope Gregory XIII., after having with 
difficulty overcome the Protestant scruples of Germany, Den- 
mark, and Switzerland, and last of all (with shame be it said) 
of England and Sweden, has never been able to penetrate into 
the wide dominions of the old Byzantine and the modern 
Russian Empires, which still hold to the Greek Calendar, 
eleven days behind the rest of the civilised world. 

These contrasts might be indefinitely multiplied, sometimes 
to the advantage of one Church, sometimes to the advantage 
of the other. The case of the Sacraments and their accom- 
paniments will suffice as final examples. 

The Latin doctrine on this subject is by Protestants so 
frequently regarded as the highest pitch of superstition by 
Roman Catholics as the highest pitch of reverence of which 
the subject is capable that it may be instructive to both to 
see the contrast between the freedom and reasonableness of 
the sacramental doctrine as held by Roman authorities, com- 
pared with the stiff, the magical, the antiquarian character of 
the same doctrine as represented in the East. We are ac- 
customed to place the essence of superstition in a devotion to 
the outward forms and elements as distinct from the inward 
spirit which they represent, convey, or express. Let us, for a 
moment, see which has in this respect most tenaciously clung 
to the form, which to the spirit, .of the two great ordinances of 
Christian worship. 

There can be no question that the original form of baptism 
the very meaning of the word was complete immersion in the 
deep baptismal waters ; and that, for at least four centuries, 
any other form was either unknown, or regarded, unless in 
the case of dangerous illness, as an exceptional, almost a 
monstrous case. To this form the Eastern Church still rigidly 
adheres ; and the most illustrious and venerable portion of it, 
that of the Byzantine Empire, absolutely repudiates and ignores 
any other mode of administration as essentially invalid. The 
Latin Church, on the other hand, doubtless in deference to the 
requirements of a northern climate, to the change of manners, 
to the- convenience of custom, has wholly altered the mode, 
preferring, as it would fairly say, mercy to sacrifice ; and (with 
the two exceptions of the cathedral of Milan, and the sect of the 
Baptists) a few drops of water are now the Western substitute 

78 The Characteristics of 

for the threefold plunge into the rushing rivers or the wide 
baptisteries of the East. 

And when we descend from the administration itself of the 
sacramental elements to their concomitant circumstances, still 
the same contrast appears. In the first age of the Church it 
was customary for the apostles to lay their hands on the heads 
of the newly baptised converts, that they might receive the 
"gifts of the Spirit." The "gifts" vanished, but the custom 
of laying on of hands remained. It remained and was con- 
tinued, and so in the Greek Church is still continued, at the 
baptism of children as of adults. Confirmation is, with them, 
simultaneous with the act of the baptismal immersion. But 
the Latin Church, whilst it adopted or retained the practice 
of admitting infants to baptism, soon set itself to remedy the 
obvious defect arising from their unconscious age, by separat- 
ing, and postponing, and giving a new life and meaning to 
the rite of confirmation. The two ceremonies, which in the 
Eastern Church are indissolubly confounded, are now, through- 
out Western Christendom, by a salutary innovation, each made 
to minister to the edification of the individual, and completion 
of the whole baptismal ordinance. 

In like manner the East retained, and still retains, the 
apostolical practice mentioned by S. James for the sick to 
call in the elders of the church, to anoint him with oil, and 
pray over him, that he may recover. " The elders," that is, a 
body of priests (for they still make a point of the plural 
number), are called in at moments of dangerous illness, and 
the prayer is offered. But the Latin Church, seeing that the 
special object for which the ceremony was first instituted, the 
recovery of the sick, had long ceased to be effected, deter- 
mined to change its form, that it still might be preserved as an 
instructive symbol. And thus the " anointing with oil " of 
the first century, and of the Oriental Church, has become with 
the Latins merely the last, " the extreme unction," of the 
dying man. 

Yet once again it became a practice in the Church, early 
we know not how early for infants to communicate in the 
Lord's supper. A literal application to the Eucharist of the 
text respecting the bread of life, in the sixth chapter of S. John, 
naturally followed on a literal application to baptism of the text 
respecting the second birth in the third chapter ; and the actual 
participation in the elements of both sacraments came to be 
regarded as equally necessary for the salvation of every human 

the Eastern Church 79 

being. Here again the peculiar genius of each of the two 
Churches displayed itself. The Oriental Churches, in con- 
formity with ancient usage, still administer the Eucharist to 
infants. In the Coptic Church it may even happen that an 
infant is the only recipient. The Latin Church, on the other 
hand, in deference to modern feeling, has not only abandoned, 
but actually forbidden, a practice which, as far as antiquity is 
concerned, might insist on unconditional retention. 

4. There is yet another more general subject on which the 
widest difference, involving the same principle, exists between 
the two communions, namely, the whole relation of art to 
religious worship. Let any one enter an Oriental church and 
he will at once be struck by the contrast which the architecture, 
the paintings, the very aspect of the ceremonial, present to the 
churches of the West. Often, indeed, this may arise from the 
poverty or oppression under which most Christian communities 
labour whose lot has been cast in the Ottoman Empire ; but 
often the altars may blaze with gold the dresses of the priests 
stiffen with the richest silks of Brousa yet the contrast remains. 
The difference lies in the fact that Art, as such, has no place 
in the worship or in the edifice. There is no aiming at effect, 
no dim religious light, no beauty of form or colour beyond 
what is produced by the mere display of gorgeous and barbaric 
pomp. Yet it would be a great mistake to infer from this 
absence of art indeed no one who has ever seen it could infer 
that this involves a more decided absence of form and of 
ceremonial. The mystical gestures, the awe which surrounds 
the sacerdotal functions, the long repetitions, the severance of 
the sound from the sense, of the mind from the act, both in 
priests and people, are not less, but more, remarkable than in 
the churches of the West. The traveller who finds himself in 
the interior of the Roman Catholic cathedral of Malta, after 
having been accustomed for a few weeks or months to the 
ritual of the convents and churches of the Levant, experiences 
almost the same emotion as when he passes again from the 
services of the Latin to those of the Reformed Churches. This 
union of barbaric rudeness and elaborate ceremonialism is, 
however, no contradiction ; it is an exemplification of an 
important law in the human mind. There is no more curious 
chapter in the history of the relation of the two Churches than 
that of the Iconoclastic controversy of the ninth century. It is 
true that the immediate effects of this controversy were 
transient the sudden ebullition, not of a national or popular 

8o The Characteristics of 

feeling, but almost, as it would seem, of a Puritan, or even a 
Mahometan, fanaticism in the breast of a single Emperor " a 
mere negative doctrine," " which robbed the senses of their 
habitual and cherished objects of devotion without awakening 
an inner life of piety." The onslaught on the image-worship 
of the Church passed away almost as rapidly as it had begun ; 
and the fanaticism which the Emperor Leo had provoked, the 
Empress Irene, through the second Council of Nicaea, effectu- 
ally proscribed. But in the Eastern Church the spirit of Leo 
has so far revived that, although pictures are still retained and 
adored with even more veneration than the corresponding 
objects of devotion in the West, statues are rigidly excluded ; 
and the same Greek monk, who would ridicule the figures, or 
even bas-reliefs, of a Roman Catholic church, will fling his 
incense and perform his genuflexions with the most undoubting 
faith before the same saint as seen in the paintings of his own 
convent chapel. 

The result is well given by Dean Milman : 
" The ruder the art the more intense the superstition. The 
perfection of the fine arts tends rather to diminish than to 
promote such superstition. Not merely does the cultivation of 
mind required for their higher execution, as well as the 
admiration of them, imply an advanced state,' but the idealism, 
which is their crowning excellence, in some degree unrealises 
them, and creates a different and more exalted feeling. There 
is more direct idolatry paid to the rough and illshapen image, 
or the flat unrelieved and staring picture the former actually 
clothed in gaudy and tinsel ornaments, the latter with the 
crown of gold leaf on the head, and real or artificial flowers in 
the hand than to the noblest ideal statue, or the Holy Family 
with all the magic of light and shade. They are not the fine 
paintings which work miracles, but the coarse and smoke- 
darkened boards, on which the dim outline of form is hardly to 
be traced. Thus it may be said that it was the superstition 
which required the images rather than the images which formed 
the superstition. The Christian mind would have found some 
other fetiche to which it would have attributed miraculous 
powers. Relics would have been more fervently worshipped, 
and endowed with more transcendent powers, without the 
adventitious good, the familiarising the mind with the historic 
truths of Scripture, or even the legends of Christian martyrs, 
which at least allayed the evil of the actual idolatry. Icono- 
clasm left the worship of relics, and other dubious memorials 

the Eastern Church 81 

of the saints, in all their vigour, while it struck at that which, 
after all, was a higher kind of idolatry. It aspired not to 
elevate the general mind above superstition, but proscribed only 
one, and that not the most debasing form." l 

5. Another difference presents itself, arising partly from the 
same causes, in the mode of dealing which the Eastern Church 
adopts towards independent or hostile forms of religion. 

In regard to missions, the inaction of the Eastern Churches 
is well known. Whilst the Latin Church has sent out 
missionaries for the conversion of England and Germany in the 
middle ages, of South America, of India, and of China, down 
to our own time ; whilst many Protestants pour the whole of 
their religious energy exclusively into missionary enterprise, the 
Eastern Churches, as a general rule, have remained content 
with the maintenance of their own faith. The preaching of 
Ulfilas to the Goths, of the Nestorian missions in Asia, and, in 
modern times, of Russia in Siberia and the Aleutian Islands, 
are but striking exceptions. The conversion of the Russian 
nation was effected, not by the preaching of the Byzantine 
clergy, but by the marriage of a Byzantine princess. In the 
midst of the Mahometan East the Greek populations remain 
like islands in the barren sea, and the Bedouin tribes have 
wandered for twelve centuries round the Greek convent of 
Mount Sinai probably without one instance of conversion to 
the creed of men whom they yet acknowledge with almost 
religious veneration as beings from a higher world. 

Yet, if Eastern Christians have abdicated the glory of 
missionaries, they are exempt from the curse of proselytism ; 
and they have (with some mournful 2 examples to the contrary) 
been free from the still darker curse of persecution. A re- 
spectful reverence for every manifestation of religious feeling 
has withheld them from violent attacks on the rights of con- 
science, and led them to extend a kindly patronage to forms of 
faith most removed from their own. The gentle spirit of the 
Greek Fathers has granted to the heroes and sages of heathen 
antiquity a place in the Divine favour, which was long denied 
in the West. Along the porticoes of Eastern churches 3 are to 

1 Latin Christianity, ii. 152, 153. 

? The difficulty of arriving at the truth of the alleged Russian persecution 
of the Roman Catholics in Poland renders any positive statement on this 
subject next to impossible. In earlier times the worst persecution perhaps 
was that of the Paulicians by Theodora, A.D. 835. (Gibbon, c. liv.) 

3 They may be seen in several of the Moscow churches, and in the 
Iberian monastery in Mount Athos. 

82 The Characteristics of 

be seen portrayed on the walls the figures of Homer, Solon, 
Thucydides, Pythagoras, and Plato, as pioneers preparing the 
way for Christianity. In the vast painting of the Last 
Judgment, which covers the west end of the chief cathedral of 
Moscow, Paradise is represented as divided and subdivided 
into many departments or chambers, thus keeping before the 
minds even of the humblest the great doctrine of the Gospel 
which has often been tacitly dropped out of Western religion 
" In my Father's house are many mansions." No inquisition, 
no S. Bartholomew's massacre, no Titus Gates, has darkened 
the history of any of the nobler portions of Eastern Christen- 
dom. In Armenia, Henry Martin's funeral at Tokat is said to 
have received all the honours of an Armenian archbishop. In 
Russia, where the power and the will to persecute exist more 
strongly, though proselytism is forbidden, yet the worship, not 
only of their own dissenters, but of Latins and Protestants, is 
protected as sacred. In the fair of Nijni-Novgorod, on the 
confluence of the Volga and the Oka, the Mahometan mosque 
and the Armenian church stand side by side with the orthodox 

6. In like manner the theology of the East has undergone 
no systematising process. Its doctrines remain in the same 
rigid yet undefined state as that in which they were left by 
Constantine and Justinian. The resistance to the insertion of 
the words "filioque" was the natural protest of the unchanging 
Church of the early Councils against the growth, whether by 
development or by corruption, of the West. Even in points 
where the Protestant Churches have gone back, as they believe, 
to a yet earlier simplicity of faith, the Eastern Church still 
presents her doctrines in a form far less repugnant to such a 
simplicity than is the case with the corresponding statements in 
the Latin Church. Prayers for the dead exist, but no elaborate 
hierarchical system has been built upon their performance. A 
general expectation prevails that by some unknown process the 
souls of the sinful will be purified before they pass into the 
Divine presence ; but this has never been consolidated into a 
doctrine of purgatory. The Mother of our Lord is regarded 
with a veneration which, in elevation of sentiment, equals any 
of the devotions addressed to her in the West ; but it is too 
abstract and indefinite to allot to her in the scheme of salvation, 
or the protection of the Church, the powerful place which is so 
precisely ascribed to her by Latin divines. The reverence for 
her sanctity has never crystallised into the modern dogma of 

the Eastern Church 83 

the Immaculate Conception. Her death, encompassed as it is 
by legend, is yet " the sleep " (KOI/^O-IS) of the Virgin, not her 
"assumption." The boundary between the rhetorical, poetical 
addresses to the saints, in the Eastern worship, and the actual 
invocation of their aid, has never been laid down with precisian. 
" Transubstantiation," if used at all as a theological term, is 
merely one amongst many to express the reverential awe with 
which the Eucharist is approached. It is not in the exact 
repetition of the words of the original institution (as in the 
Churches of Rome, of Luther, and of England), but in the 
more general and more directly spiritual form of the invocation 
of the Spirit, that the Eastern Church places the moment of the 
consecration of the elements. 

7. A similar turn is given to the institution of the Eastern 
clergy, by the absence of the organising, centralising tendency 
which prevailed in the West. It is not that their spirit is less 
hierarchical than that of the Latin clergy. In some respects it 
is more so, in proportion as it more nearly resembles the Jewish 
type, of which the extreme likeness, as we have seen, is pre- 
served in Abyssinia. The Greek priest concealed within the 
veil of the sanctuary is far more entirely shut out from the 
congregation than the Latin priest standing before the altar, in 
the presence of the assembled multitude, who can at least 
follow with their eyes his every gesture. For centuries in the 
Church of Alexandria, and still in the Church of Armenia, the 
dead hand of the first bishop has been employed as the instru- 
ment of consecration in each succeeding generation. This is a 
more carnal and literal representation of a priestly succession 
than is to be found in any Western ordinations. But the 
moment we enter into practical life, and even into the ground- 
work of the theory of the two Churches, the powers and pre- 
tensions of the Greek hierarchy shrink into nothing before 
those of the Latin. 

The authorised descriptions of the office at once bespeak a 
marked difference. The lofty terms introduced into the Latin- 
Church in the thirteenth century, and still retained in our 
own, "Receive the Holy Ghost . . . whose sins thou 
dost retain they are retained," fill the place which in the 
Eastern Church is occupied by a simple prayer for the Divine 
blessing. The expression of absolution, which in the Western 
Church was in the same thirteenth century changed into the 
positive form "I absolve thee," in the Eastern Church is still 
as it always was, "May the Lord absolve thee." The inde- 

84 The Characteristics of 

pendent position conferred on the Western clergy by tithes is, at 
least in one portion l of the Eastern Church, almost unknown. 
However sacred the office whilst it is held, and however 
difficult and discreditable it may be to lay it aside, yet it is not, 
as in the Latin Church, indelible. An Eastern priest can 
divest himself of his orders and become a layman. Although 
confession to a priest is deemed necessary for all, yet it never 
has descended into those details of casuistry which have in the 
Latin Church made it so formidable an engine both for good 
and evil. The scandals, the influence, the terrors, of the con- 
fessional are alike unknown in the East. 

The laity, on the other hand, have a part assigned to them in 
the Eastern Church, which even in the Protestant Churches of 
the West has been with difficulty recognised. The monastic 
orders, although including many clergy, are yet in the East, to 
a great extent, as they are never in the West, but as they were 
entirely in early times, lay and not clerical institutions. The 
vast community of Athos is, practically, a lay corporation 
assisted by a small body of chaplains. The independent 
manly assertion of religion which pervades the Mahometan 
world 2 has not been lost in the Christian East. One special 
rite that of the sacred unction of Confirmation, which, as we 
have seen, is conferred simultaneously with baptism has been 
explained with a force and eloquence which, on such a subject, 
rings with the tone of a Tyndale or a Luther, as symbolising 
the royal priesthood of every Christian. "It destroys the wall 
of separation that Rome has raised between the ecclesiastic and 
the layman, for we are all priests of the Most High priests 
though not pastors 3 in different degrees." This explanation 
of the ceremony may be doubtful ; but that it should be put 
forth at all in connection with one of the most peculiar and 
significant of the Oriental ecclesiastical rites, is an indication 
of their general spirit. 

In the study of the Scriptures, and the use of the liturgy in 
the vernacular languages of the several nations that have 
adopted Eastern Christianity, we have other traces, though less 
direct, of the same tendency. It is true that in most Oriental 
Churches these languages have, by the lapse of years, become 
antiquated, or even dead, in the mouths of those who use 
them ; and the clergy have been too timid or too apathetic to 
meet the changing exigencies of time. But the principle is 

1 See Lecture IX. 2 See Lecture VIII. 

3 Quelques Mots, par un Chretien Orthodoxe, 1853, p. 53. 

the Eastern Church 85 

maintained, that the language l of each separate nation, not a 
sacred language peculiar to the clergy, is the proper vehicle for 
worship and religious life. And the study of the Bible, though 
neglected from the barbarism of the present state of Oriental 
Christendom, is nowhere discouraged. The Arabic translation 
of the Scriptures, even in the Coptic Church, is listened to with 
the utmost attention, and is taught in Coptic schools. In 
Russia, the efforts of the Bible Society were welcomed by 
Alexander I. ; and in Greece (until the breaking out of the 
War of Independence) by the collective hierarchy of Con- 

" God be praised," was the expression of a devout Russian 
layman, in speaking of the scandals occasioned by the ignorance 
of the Russian priesthood; "the Eastern Church has never 
ruled that religious light and instruction are confined to the 
clergy. It is still in our own power to redeem the future." 

This aspect of the institution of the Oriental hierarchy is still 
further brought out by two general points of contrast with the 
position of the clergy of the West. 

The centralisation of the West, as displayed in the Papacy, 
is unknown to the East. The institution of the Patriarchates 
is entirely Oriental. The very name carries us back to the 
primitive East. The office, 2 though first recognised at the 
Council of Chalcedon, has struck deep roots in the East, never 
in the West. The august brotherhood of the "All Holy," 
" the Most Blessed/ 7 Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, 
Antioch, and Jerusalem, amidst the degradation which has beset 
their little courts, still remains as a bond to the scattered 
Churches of the* Levant. In the West, the very name has been 
lost, and amongst all the titles of the Pope, that of " Patriarch " 
is not one. This contrast between the aristocratical and 
monarchical principles of the two Churches, partly the result of 
the general tendencies just mentioned, has been encouraged by 
the difference of the political circumstances of the respective 
Churches. What Imperial Rome lost by the transfer of the 
seat of government to the East, the Byzantine Empire gained. 
What Papal Rome gained by the removal of a rival power and 
splendour, that the Patriarch of Constantinople lost. As the 
Pope filled the place of the absent Emperors at Rome, inherit- 
ing their power, their prestige, the titles which they had them- 
selves derived from the days of their paganism, so the Emperors 

1 See Lecture IX. 2 See Gregory's Vindication. 

86 The Characteristics of 

controlled, guided, personified, the Church at Constantinople. 
No one can read Eusebius's description of the Council of Nicsea 
without feeling that, amongst all who were then assembled in 
the hall, none occupied the same pre-eminence as the Emperor l 
Constantine. Justinian and Theodora, great as they were in 
legislating for the empire, exercised a hardly less important 
influence in their determination, not only of the discipline but 
of the doctrines of the Church ; and what Constantine and 
Justinian began has been continued by the great potentates 
who have ever since swayed the destinies of the Oriental 
hierarchy. In Constantinople itself the Sultan still exercises 
the right which he inherited from the last of the Caesars ; and 
the virtual appointment and deposition of the patriarchs 2 still 
places in his hands the government of the Byzantine Church 
a power, no doubt, more scandalous and more pernicious in 
the hands of the Mussulman than it was in the hands of the 
Christian despot, but not more decided and absolute. And 
how high a place is occupied by the Emperor of Russia 3 will 
be seen in treating of the Russian Church especially. 

Along with this difference in the position of the Papacy and 
the Patriarchate, was another which affected the whole position 
of the hierarchy itself. The Eastern Church at its outset basked 
in the sunshine of Imperial favour a regular institution, forming 
part of the framework of civilised society, secure from the 
convulsion which shook the rest of the world in the invasion of 
the northern barbarians. The Latin Church, entering on her 
career amidst the crash of a falling Empire, and with successive 
hordes of wild barbarians to control, instruct, and guide, was in 
a far more trying position. Amongst the various steps for the 
organisation of her clergy in this struggle the chief was the 
enforcement of celibacy. This principle has not only never 
been adopted in the East, but has been repudiated even more 
positively than by Protestants. However fervent the Oriental 
Church may have been at all times in its assertion of the ascetic 
and monastic system, yet for the clerical body marriage is not 
only permitted and frequent, but compulsory, and all but 
universal. It is a startling sight to the traveller, after long 
wanderings in the south of Europe, to find himself, amongst the 
mountains of Greece or Asia Minor, once more under the roof of 

1 See Lecture IV. 

2 The Patriarch is elected by a Synod of Bishops. But the Porte is 
always consulted. 

8 See Lecture X. 

the Eastern Church 87 

a married pastor, and see the table of the parish priest furnished, 
as it might be in Protestant England or Switzerland, by the 
hands of an acknowledged wife. The bishops, indeed, being 
selected from the monasteries, are single. But the parochial 
clergy that is, the whole body of the clergy as such though 
they cannot marry after their ordination, must always be married 
before they enter on their office. 1 In one instance, that of the 
Chaldaean or Nestorian Christians, the patriarch is allowed to 

IV. These distinctions, which might be pursued to any 
extent, and illustrated in every particular, will suffice to show 
that the differences between the two divisions of Christendom, 
although in some points superficial, are yet in principle more 
radical than those which separate the other branches of the 
Christian Church from each other. 

It is this inward moral divergence, more than any outward 
theological distinction or any local distance, which occasions 
our ignorance and our indifference to the Eastern Church. But 
it is from this very divergence that accrue the chief advantages 
of the study of the Eastern Church. 

i. The ecclesiastical history of the West is full of our own 
passions, our own preconceived ideas and prejudices. We run, 
round and round in the ruts of our own controversies ; every 
object that we see has been long familiar to us ; every step that 
we take is in footmarks of our own making. Every name is 
coloured with some theological sympathy or antipathy ; every 
sect and church is our personal enemy or ally. 

This living interest the history of the Eastern Church can 
never acquire. Yet it is refreshing to turn for a time to a 
region where the incidents and the characters awaken no 
feelings except those which are purely historical; where the 
principles which agitate the Church at large can be traced 
without the disturbing force of personal and national ani- 
mosities. The names of Hildebrand, Loyola, Luther, Calvin, 
carry with them each a tempest of its own, which scatters 
commotion and excitement around its whole circumference. 
But no one will be able to work himself into a frenzy in 
defending even Chrysostom or Basil; no one will lose his 

1 This has been so long an established custom, that, like the celibacy of 
the Latin clergy, though not part of the doctrine, it is part of the discipline 
of the Church. An exception, however, has occurred in the Russian Church 
within the past year. A theological professor has been ordained, although 

88 The Lessons of 

temper or his chanty in deciding the claims of the false or 
the true Demetrius, or in defending the cause of Stephen 
Yavorski of Riazan against Theophanes Procopovitch of 

And what is true of individual events or persons, is true 
of the whole institution. It is not only unknown and there- 
fore fresh to us, but it is compounded in such proportions, 
and of such materials, as to turn the force and blunt the 
edge of the implements of controversy with which in the 
West we are always destroying one another. Many a keen 
assailant of Popery or of Protestantism will find himself at 
fault in the presence of a Church which is Protestant and 
Catholic at once, sometimes in points where we least expect 
to find the respective elements of discord or concord. It cuts 
across the grain of our most cherished prejudices. Our well- 
ordered phrases are thrown into confusion by encountering a 
vast communion which, in some respects, goes so far ahead of 
us, in others falls so far behind us. From such an experience 
we may be taught that there is a region above and beyond 
our own agitations. We may learn to be less positive in 
pushing theological premises to their extreme conclusions. 
We may find that there is a stubborn mass of fact against 
which the favourite argument of driving our adversaries into 
believing all or nothing is broken to pieces. It is useful to 
find that churches and sects are not exactly squared accord- 
ing to our notions of what our own logic or rhetoric would 
lead us to expect. The discovery of the Syrian Christians 
of S. Thomas on the shores of India was a fruitful source 
of perplexity to both sections of European Christendom. 
"Their separation from the Western world," says Gibbon, 
" had left them in ignorance of the improvements or corrup- 
tions of a thousand years ; and their conformity with the 
faith and practice of the fifth century would equally disap- 
point the prejudices of a Papist or a Protestant." Such 
two-edged disappointments are amongst the best lessons of 
ecclesiastical history ; and such are the disappointments 
which not only the small community on the coast of Malabar, 
but the whole Eastern Church, impresses on the inquirers of 
the West, from whatever quarter they come. 

2. Again, a knowledge of the existence and claims of the 
Eastern Church keeps up the equipoise of Christendom. 
The weight of authority, of numbers, of antiquity, has various 
attractions for different minds. Some characters are self-poised 

the Eastern Church 89 

and independent. Loneliness and singularity in the present, 
the hopes of a remote and ideal future, are to them the notes 
of a true Church. But there are many who are in danger of 
being thrown off their balance by the magnetic power of 
those associations which appeal to the imaginative, the social, 
the devotional parts of our nature. 

The body with which we are most familiar as producing 
this effect, is the ancient and energetic community whose 
seat is at Rome. In it we usually see the chief impersonation 
of high ecclesiastical pretensions, of an elaborate ritual, of 
outward devotion, of wide dominion, of venerable tradition. 
It is close at hand; and therefore, whether we attack or 
admire, it fills the whole of our view. But this effect is 
considerably modified by the apparition of the Eastern 
Church. Turn from the Tiber to the Bosphorus : we shall 
see that there are two kings in the field, two suns in the 
heavens. That figure which seemed so imposing when it 
was the only one which met our view, changes all its pro- 
portions, when we see that it is overtopped by a vaster, 
loftier, darker figure behind. If we are bent on having 
dogmatical belief and conservative tradition to its fullest 
extent, we must go not to the Church which calls itself 
Catholic, but to the Church which calls itself Orthodox to 
the Church which will die but never surrender the minutest 
point which Council or Father has bequeathed to it. If we 
are to make the most of monasticism as a necessary model 
of Christian perfection, we ought not to stop short with the 
Grande Chartreuse, or Monte Casino, when we can have 
the seclusion of Mount Athos, or the exaltation of Simeon 
Stylites. If we are to have the ancient theory of sacramental 
forms carried out to its extreme limits, we must not halt 
half-way with a Church which has curtailed the waters of 
baptism, and deferred confirmation and communion to years 
of discretion : we must take refuge in the ancient Eastern 
ritual, which still retains the threefold immersion, which still 
offers the rites of chrism and of the eucharist to the uncon- 
scious touch of infancy. 

Nay, beyond the Eastern Church itself, there is a further 
East to which we must go if wisdom is to be sought, not in 
moderation, but in extremes. The Greek Church is more 
ceremonial than the Latin, but the Coptic is more ceremonial 
than the Greek, and the Abyssinian is more ceremonial than 
the Coptic. In the Church of Abyssinia we shall find the 

90 The Lessons of 

best, example of what many seek in a limited degree in the West 
a complete sacrifice of the spirit of Christianity to the letter. 

Remember, too, that if the voice of authority is confident 
at Rome, it is hardly less confident at Constantinople and at 
Moscow. Remember, that beyond the Carpathians, beyond 
the Hsemus, beyond the Ural range, there are unbroken 
successions of bishops, long calendars of holy men unknown 
in the West, who can return anathema for anathema, as 
well as blessing for blessing ; who can afford to regard even 
Augustine and Jerome, not as canonised saints, only as " pious 
Christians of blessed memory." Remember, that Athos can 
boast its miraculous pictures and springs no less than Rimini 
or Assisi. Remember, that in the eyes of orthodox Greeks 
the Pope is not the representative of a faith pure and unde- 
iiled, but (I quote l their own words) is " the first Protestant," 
"the founder of German rationalism." The Eastern patriarchs 
speak in their solemn documents of the Papal supremacy as 
" the chief heresy of the latter days, which nourishes now as 
its predecessor Arianism nourished before it in the earlier ages, 
and which, like Arianism, shall in like manner be cast down 
and vanish away." 2 To a devout Russian the basilica of S. 
Peter seems bare and cold and profane ; hardly deserving the 
name of church a temple without an altar. Rome itself is 
chiefly interesting to him because it reminds him of Moscow, 3 
but even then, as he pathetically adds, "it is Moscow without 
the Kremlin." The Pope of Rome has fallen out of the 
mystic circle of the five patriarchs ; he has himself dropped 
the name; his vacant place has been filled by the new 
Patriarchate 4 of Moscow. 

The fact of such wide-spread deeply rooted feelings remains 
in all its length and breadth to be accounted for in any hypo- 
thesis which we choose to frame of a universal Church. 
Eastern Christendom, so considered, is one of the strongest 
bulwarks against the undue claims or encroachments of any 
Church or see of the West, whether at Rome, or Geneva, or 

3. Yet again, if we may make this use of the Greek Church 
for purposes of war and of defence, we may also make use of it 

1 Quelques Mots, par un Chretien Orthodoxe, 1853, p. 40. 

2 Encyclic Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848, 5. (See Neale, ii. 
1195.) Compare a similar Epistle, 1723, addressed to the English Non- 
jurors (Lathbury's History of the Nonjurors, p. 350). 

3 Mouravieff, Questions Religieuses, p. 270. 4 See Lecture X. 

the Eastern Church 91 

for purposes of peace and harmony. It is often observed, wit 
regard to the most general features, of manners, geography, 
and history, that the West can only be perfectly understood 
after having seen the East. A green field, a rushing stream, 
a mountain clothed with verdure from head to foot, will, 
I believe, always assume a new interest in the eyes of one who 
has come from the dry, bare, thirsty East. We trace a distinct- 
ness, a vividness, a family likeness in these features of Western 
Europe, which, until we have seen their opposites, almost 
escape our notice. Like to this is the additional understanding 
of our own portion of Christendom, gained by a contempla- 
tion of its counterpoise in the Oriental Churches. However 
great the differences between the various Western Churches, 
there are peculiarities in common which imply deeper elements 
of consanguinity and likeness than those which unite any of 
them to the communities of the East. The variety, the stir, 
the life, the turmoil, the "drive" as our American brethren 
would call it, is, in every Western Church, contrasted with the 
immobility, the repose, the inaction of Greece, of Syria, and 
of Russia. It is instructive for the staunch adherents of the 
Reformation to feel that the Latin Church, which we have 
been accustomed to regard as our chief antagonist, has 
after all the same elements of Western life and civilisation 
as those of which we are justly proud; that, whatever it be 
as compared with England or Germany, it is, as compared 
with Egypt or Syria, enlightened, progressive, in one word, 
Protestant. It is instructive for the opponents of the Reforma- 
tion to see that in the Eastern section of the Christian Church, 
vast as it is, the whole Western Church, Latin and German, 
Papal and Lutheran, is often regarded as essentially one ; that 
the first concessions to reason and freedom, which involve by 
necessity all the subsequent stages, were made long before 
Luther, in the bosom of the Roman Church itself; that the 
Papal see first led the way in schism from the parent stock in 
liberty of private judgment ; that some of the most important 
points in which the Latin is now distinguished from the Greek 
Church, ,have been actually copied and imported from the 
new Churches of the Protestant West. To trace this family 
resemblance between the different branches of the Occidental 
Church is the polemical object of an able treatise by a zealous 
member of the Church of Russia : 1 to trace it in a more 

1 Quelques Mots, par un Chretien Orthodoxe, 1853 and 1854. 


92 The Lessons of 

friendly and hopeful spirit is a not unworthy aim of students 
of the Church of England. 

4. But it would be unjust to our Eastern brethren to draw 
from them lessons merely of contrast and disparagement. 
There are those, no doubt, who look on the Oriental Church 
merely as the dead trunk, from which all sap and life have 
departed, fit only to be cut down, because it cumbers the 
ground. But it is also, beyond doubt, the aged tree, beneath 
whose shade the rest of Christendom has sprung up. We may 
ask whether its roots have not struck too widely and too 
deeply in its native soil to allow of any other permanent form 
of religious life, in those regions which does not in some 
degree engraft itself on that ancient stem. 1 We may thankfully 
accept even the sluggish barbarism and stagnation which have, 
humanly speaking, saved so large and so venerable a portion 
of the Christian world from the consolidation of the decrees of 
Trent, and from the endless sub-divisions of Augsburg and 
Geneva. We may reflect with satisfaction that should ever 
the hour come for the re-awakening of the Churches of the 
East, there is no infallible pontiff at Constantinople, no hierarchy 
separated from the domestic charities of life, to prevent the 
religious and social elements from amalgamating into one 
harmonious whole. We may gratefully remember that there 
is a theology in the world of which the free, genial mind of 
Chrysostom is still the golden mouthpiece; a theology 2 in 
which scholastic philosophy has had absolutely no part; in 
which the authority alike of Duns Scotus and of Calvin is 
unknown. Doubtless the future of the whole Church is to 
be sought, not in the East, but in the West. But there is 
a future also for the Church of the East. Have we not known 

1 " Let foreigners bring us light, and we will thank them for it. But we 
beg of them not to bring fire to burn our house about our ears." Saying 
of a Greek bishop, recorded in Masson's Apology^for the Greek Church, p. 7. 
In quoting this little work, which, though disfigured by some personal 
partialities, contains much good sense and charity, I cannot forbear to 
express my obligations to its author. To my intercourse with him at 
Athens, now twenty years ago, I owe my first interest in the state of the 
Greek Church. 

2 "The Greeks of the humbler classes have a good acquaintance with 
the Gospel History and the life of our Lord ; but they know nothing of 
Substitution" Such was the lamentation of an excellent Presbyterian 
minister who had been long resident amongst them, in answer to the 
inquiry of an English traveller on the state of religious knowledge in the 
East. What was thus said of the poor Greeks of the present day is no less 
true of their most illustrious theologians in former time. 

the Eastern Church 93 

characters, venerable from age or station, who, with the most 
immovable adherence to ancient hereditary forms of belief and 
practice, yet, when brought into contact with the views of 
a younger and more stirring generation, have by the very 
distance from which they approach given it a new turn, showed 
a capacity for enduring, tolerating, understanding it, such as we 
should have vainly sought from others more nearly allied by 
pursuits or dispositions? Such is, to an indefinite extent, the 
position of the Eastern Christian towards the Western. Kept 
aloof from our controversies, escaping our agitations, he comes 
upon them with a freedom and freshness, which in the wear 
and tear of the West can no longer be found. He has the 
rare gift of an ancient orthodox belief without intolerance and 
without proselytism. He is firmly and proudly attached to his 
own Church and nation, yet has a ready and cordial recognition 
to give to the faith of others. He knows, and we know, that, 
although he may become a European, yet we can by no 
possibility become Asiatics. And such a knowledge engenders 
a confidence, which between rivals and neighbours is almost 
unattainable. He stands on the confines of the East and 
West, drawn eastward by his habits, by his lineage, by his 
local position; drawn westward by the inevitable, onward, 
westward progress of Christianity and of civilisation. In him, 
therefore, we find a link between those two incommunicable 
spheres, such as can be found nowhere else. The Greek race 
may yet hand back from Europe to Asia the light which, in 
former days, it handed on from Asia to Europe. The Sclavonic 
race may yet impart by the Volga or the Caspian the civilisation 
which it has itself received by the Neva and the Baltic. 

And we, too, with all our energy and life, may learn 
something from the otherwise unparalleled sight of whole 
nations and races of men, penetrated by the religious sentiment 
which visibly sways their minds even when it fails to reach 
their conduct, which, if it has produced but few whom we 
should call saints or philosophers, has produced through 
centuries of oppression whole armies of confessors and martyrs. 
We may_ learn something from the sight of a calm strength, 
reposing "in the quietness and confidence" of a treasure of 
hereditary belief, which its possessor is content to value for 
himself, without forcing it on the reception of others. We 
may learn something from the sight of Churches, where religion 
is not abandoned to the care of women and children, but is 
claimed as the right and the privilege of men ; where the Church 

94 The Lessons of 

reposes not so much on the force and influence of its clergy as 
on the independent knowledge and manly zeal of its laity. 

5. Yet once more if there is any Church which may be 
expected to learn congenial and useful lessons from the study 
of Eastern Christendom, it is our own. I do not lay stress on 
the possible connection of the ancient British Church with 
Eastern missionaries before the arrival of Augustine, nor on 
the more certain influence of the East on the Anglo-Saxon 
Church when Theodore of Tarsus sate on the throne of 
Canterbury. These associations are too slight to sustain any 
substantial argument. But there are likenesses between our 
position and that of the Eastern Churches, which, amidst great 
differences, may render the knowledge of their history specially 
profitable in the study of our own. The national character 
of our religion, which is at once our boast and our reproach, 
finds a parallel even an exaggerated parallel in the Eastern 
identification of nationality and creed, such as the larger ideas 
of continental Europe will hardly tolerate or understand either 
in us or in them. The relations of Church and State, as 
portrayed in Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, are avowedly based 
on those of the ancient Church of Constantinople, and still 
find their counterpart in the modern Church of Russia. If 
the ecclesiastical commonwealth of our own little island, with 
manifold contending principles within its pale, and manifold 
sects multiplying without, can be better understood by the 
sight of a like phenomenon, reproduced on a gigantic scale, 
from different causes, in the remote East, let no one grudge us 
this advantage from the consideration of the double-sided, 
contradictory aspect of the Eastern Churches, or the vigour 
and wide extension of the Eastern sects. And if ever the 
question, often agitated, should be brought to issue, and any 
changes should be attempted in the English Prayer-Book, 
many scruples might be soothed by recurring to the model 
of the Eastern Church. What has never been received into 
the creeds or the services 1 of Churches venerable as those 
of Oriental Christendom, cannot by any sound argument be 
represented as indispensable to the character of the Church 
of England. 

1 I allude to the passages relating to Absolution in the Ordination and 
Visitation Services, and the adoption of the Athanasian Creed. The 
first two are mediaeval and Latin, as distinct from ancient and Catholic. 
(See p. 83. ) The third is distinctly opposed to the Eastern Church. (See 
Lecture VII.) 

the Eastern Church 95 

"I die in the faith of the Catholic Church, before the 
disunion of East and West." Such was the dying hope of 
good Bishop Ken. 1 It was an aspiration which probably no 
one but an English Churchman would have uttered. We 
may not be able to go along with the whole of the feeling 
involved in the thought. But it expresses a true belief that 
in the Church of England there is a ground of antiquity, of 
freedom, and of common sense, on which we may calmly and 
humbly confront both of the great divisions of Christendom, 
without laying ourselves open to the charge of ignorant pre- 
sumption, or of learned trifling, or of visions that can never 
be realised. We know, and it is enough to know, that the 
Gospel, the original Gospel, which came from the East and 
now rules in the West, is large enough to comprehend 
them both. 


THE question of the Double Procession furnishes so many illustrations of 
the points laid down in the previous Lecture, that it may be well to devote 
a few words to its history. 

1. It brings out forcibly the contrast noticed above between the 
systematising, innovating tendency of the West, and the simpler and 
more conservative tendency of the East. The Western insertion of the 
words "from the Son" (jiiioque) arose in the Spanish Church, from the 
logical development of the Athanasian doctrine against the Arian Visigoths. 
The Greek refusal to admit these words arose from the repugnance to any 
change in the decrees or creeds laid down in the early Councils, analogous 
to that which animated the Russian dissenters against Nicon and Peter. 
(See Lecture XII.) 

2. It well exemplifies the double-sided aspect of most theological 
doctrines. Each of the two statements expresses a truth which the 
other overlooks or omits. In the original statement of the Nicene or 
Constantinopolitan Creed, which makes the Spirit to proceed from the 
Father alone, is the necessary safeguard of the abstract unity of the 
Godhead. It is urged that to make the Spirit proceed equally from both 
the Persons in the Trinity, is to imply two principles or originating powers 
in the Divine Essence. In the Western view, which associates the Son 
with the Father, it is maintained that the addition of the disputed words 
was needed, to assert the identity of the Father and the Son in all the acts 
of redemption, and especially the identity of the Spirit of Christ with the 
Spirit of God. Both statements may be reconciled if the former is 
understood as applying to the abstract and eternal essence of the Deity, 
the latter to the Divine operations in the redemption of man. If the word 
"proceed" (eK7ropeiW0c) be used in a strictly scientific, or, it may be 

1 Life of Ken, by a Layman, p. 509. 

96 Note on the Double Procession 

added, biblical sense, then the Greeks are in the right. If it be used 
according to popular usage, then the Latins are not in the wrong. 

3. It is an excellent specimen of the race of "extinct controversies." 
For nearly a thousand years it seemed to the contending parties to be of 
such importance as to justify the rent between East and West. It was 
probably the chief reason for cherishing the Athanasian Creed and the 
anathemas peculiar to that confession (see Lecture VII.). By the disputes 
which it engendered at the Council of Florence, it largely contributed to 
the fall of the Byzantine Empire. The capture of Constantinople on 
Whitsunday was regarded in the West as a Divine judgment on the East 
for its heresy in regard to the Spirit, whose festival was thus awfully 
vindicated. Yet now the whole question is laid completely to rest. In 
the West it is never seriously discussed. In the East it is remembered, 
and will never, perhaps, be forgotten ; but it is more as a point of honour 
than of faith ; it is more the mode of our Western innovation, than the 
substance of our doctrine, that rouses their indignation. 1 

1 For the details of the doctrine, see Adam Zernikoff, as quoted by 
Neale, ii. 1154. Mouravieff, Questions Religieuses, 860. 



THE authorities for the Council of Nicasa are as follows : 

I. The original documents. 

a. The Creed. \ , . ,, ., ~ .. .. , 

, Contained in Mansi s Councils, n. 025- 

b. 1 he i wenty Canons. ^ 70I and the historians given below. 

c. The Official Letters. J 

1. Letter of Constantine, convoking the Bishops from Ancyra. 

(Mr. Harris Cowper, Analecta Nicsena, 21.) 

2. Letter of Constantine to the Bishops, denouncing the books of 


3. Letter of Constantine against Arius. 

4. Letter of Constantine to the Bishops, containing the decree on 


5. Letter of the Council to the Church of Alexandria, on the three 

points of debate. 

6. Letter of Eusebius to the Church of Csesarea, Theod. i., explaining 

his subscriptions. 

7. Letters of Eusebius and Theognis, praying for readmission. 

8. Letter of Constantine against Eusebius. 

9. Letter of Constantine to Theodotus, warning him against Eusebius. 

d. Apocryphal canons, subscriptions, letters, &c., given in 

Mansi's Councils, ii. 710-1071. 

II. Eye-witnesses. 

a. Eusebius of Caesarea in the Life of Constantine, iii. 

4-24; and in his Letter to the Church of Caesarea. 
(Theod. i. 9.) 

b. Athanasius. 

1. The Tract on the Decrees of the Nicene Council. 

2. Epistle to the Africans. 

3. Orations against Arians. 

4. On the Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia. 

c. Eustathius of Antioch. A short extract in Theod. i. 8. 

d. Auxano, a Novatian Presbyter, who had been present 

as a boy. He told his experience to Socrates. (H. E. 
ii. i.) 

s. Old people alive in Jerome's time, whom he had seen. 
(Adv. Lucif. c. 20.) 

III. Historians of the next generation. 

i. Rufinus. (H. E. i. 1-6.) A.D. 380 401. 

97 E 

98 The Council of Nicaea and 

2. Ambrose. (De Fide.) A.D. 333 397. 

(These are the only two Western authorities.) 

3. Epiphanius. (Haer. Ixix.) A.D. 360 401. 

4. Socrates. (H. E. i. 4-14.) A.D. 380 440. 

5. Sozomen. (H. E. i. 15-28.) A.D. 380 443. 

6. Philostorgius. (Arian Fragments.) A.D. 350 425. 

7. Theodoret. (H. E. i. 1-13.) A.D. 394 458. 

8. The lost history of the Council of Nicaea (in Syriac) by 

Maruthas, Bishop of Tagrit or Maipherkin, in Meso- 
potamia (A.D. 410), "Opus valdt aureum: sed proh 
dolor ! necdum inventum." (Asseman. Biblioth. Orient, 
i. pp. 177, 195.) 

IV. Later Historians. 

1. Gelasius of Cyzicus. (Fifth century.) Acts of the 

Council, filled with imaginary speeches. The book 
professes to be founded on an old MS. in his father's 

2. "Eutychius," otherwise "Sayd Ibn Batrik," of Cairo 

A.D. 876 950. Arabic Annals of Alexandria, printed 
by Pococke, and partly edited by Selden. 

3. Gregory the Presbyter. (Tenth century.) " Panegyric of 

the Nicene Fathers," printed in the Novum Auctarium 
of Combefis, vol. ii. p. 547. 

4. Nicephorus. A.D. 1390 1450. (H. E. from A.D. i 


V. Modern Historians. Of these may be selected : 

a. English. 

1. Gibbon's "Decline and Fall," c. 21. i 

2. Dean Milman's "History of Christianity under the Empire," 

vol. ii. pp. 431-448. 

3. "Some Account of the Council of Nicea," by Bishop Kaye. 


b. German. 

1. Ittig's " History of the Council " (a brief documentary summary). 


2. Walch's "History of Heresies," vol. ii. 385-689. (1762.) 

3. Hefele's "History of the Councils," book ii. (1855.) 

c. French. 

1. Tillemont's "Ecclesiastical History," vol. vi. (16371698.) 

2. Fleury's "Ecclesiastical History," book iii. (1640 1723.) 

3. Albert Prince de Broglie's "History of the Church and the 

Empire in the Fourth Century," c. iv. (1857.) 

the Seven General Councils 99 


THE earliest important development of the Eastern Church 
is the First General Council of Nicsea. This event I propose 
to describe with all the particularity of detail of which it is 
capable ; to describe it in such a way that it may remain fixed 
in our memories ; to describe it as it appeared to those who 
lived at the time. In this opening Lecture it will be my object 
to vindicate the place which I have assigned to it in that portion 
of Ecclesiastical History which I have undertaken to treat. 

I. On the one hand we must consider its peculiar connection 
with the Eastern Church. This connection it has in common 
with the first Seven General Councils. The locality of these 
great assemblies was always Eastern ; in most instances im- 
mediately in the neighbourhood of the centre of Eastern 
Christendom, within reach of Constantinople. Their decrees 
were written, their debates were conducted, not in Latin, but 
in Greek. They are still honoured by the Oriental Church 
with a reverence which hardly any Western Council has received 
in the West. The series of the Seven Councils is the constant 
subject of the sacred paintings in the cathedrals of Russia, in 
the monasteries of Athos, in the basilica l of Bethlehem. Each 
can be traced by its peculiar arrangements, or by the Emperor 
or Empress who presides. Once a year, on the first Sunday 2 
in Lent, called Orthodox Sunday, all the seven Councils are 
commemorated in one, the anniversary of the last : the service 
and ceremonial of the Church is made to reproduce the image 
of the ancient synods bishops, presbyters, and deacons, seated 
round in the semicircular form in which the old pictures 
represent them. The Eastern bishops still promise in the 
service of consecration to observe their decrees ; and not only 
is their memory preserved in learned or ecclesiastical circles, 
but even illiterate peasants, to whom, in the corresponding class 
of life in Spain or Italy, the names of Constance and Trent 
would probably be quite unknown, are well aware that their 
Church reposes on the basis of the Seven Councils, and retain 
a hope that they may yet live to see an eighth General Council, 
in which the evils of the time will be set straight. The subjects 

1 At Bethlehem and in Russia, they are on the south side of the nave. 
In Athos they are usually in the cloister or outer narthex. The most 
remarkable of these representations is in the Iberian monastery. 

2 Neale, Hist, of the Eastern Church, Introd. ii. 867. 

ioo The Council of Nicaea and 

discussed in the assemblies, and the occasions which called them 
together, were specially Eastern and Greek. This could 
hardly have been otherwise. The whole force and learning of 
early Christianity was in the East. A general Council in the 
West would have been almost an absurdity. With the 
exception of the few writers of North Africa, there was no 
Latin defender of the faith. With the exception of Tertullian, 
there was not a single early heretic of eminence in the West. 
The controversies on which the Councils turned all moved in 
the sphere of Grecian and Oriental metaphysics. They were 
such as no Western mind could have originated. 

What may be said of all the Seven Councils, is true of the 
earliest and greatest of them. The Council of Nicaea was held 
not in a Western but an Eastern city. Of the three hundred 
and eighteen bishops whose subscriptions were affixed to its 
decrees, only eight at most came from the West. The language 
of its creed is not only not Latin, but is almost untranslatable 
into Latin. Grecised forms have been adopted for some of its 
more subtle expressions. 1 Others have been modified in order 
to be accommodated to their new garb. The one phrase 
introduced by the Western Church, " filioque," 2 was only intro- 
duced gradually, irregularly, and reluctantly in the West, and 
has never been admitted into the East. In the Western 
Church the ancient Latin, commonly called the "Apostles' 
Creed," has been long since overlaid by later documents : by 
the Creed of Pius V. in the Church of Rome, by the numerous 
Confessions of Augsburg, London, Westminster, Geneva, in 
the Protestant Churches. But throughout the Eastern Church 
the Nicene Creed is still the one bond of faith. It is still 
recited in its original tongue by the peasants of Greece. Its 
recitation is still the culminating point of the service in the 
Church of Russia. The great bell of the Kremlin tower sounds 
during the whole time that its words are chanted. It is repeated 
aloud in the presence of the assembled people by the Czar at 
his coronation. It is worked in pearls on the robes of the 
highest dignitaries of Moscow. One of the main grounds of 
schism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from the 
Established Church of Russia 3 was, that the old dissenters 
were seized with the belief that the patriarch Nicon had altered 
one of the sacred words of the original text of the creed. The 

1 e.g. Usia (for ovcrla) ; Homoiision ; Dominum vivificantem (for rb 
idipiov, rb faoiroiovv). 

2 See Lecture I. p. 95. 8 See Lecture XII. 

the Seven General Councils 101 

anniversary of the Council is still celebrated 'oii s*>ecia'l days. 
Every article of the Nicene Creed is exhibited, according to 
the fashion of the Russian Church, in little pictures, and thus 
familiarised to the popular mind. 

It is necessary to dwell on the Oriental character of the 
Nicene Council and Creed, because we cannot rightly under- 
stand it without bearing in mind its peculiar origin ; and also, 
because, in justice to the Eastern Church, we must remember 
that whatever value we attach to this venerable confession, 
whatever reverence we pay to this great Council, is due, not to 
our own sphere of Christendom, not to the Church of Rome, 
but to that remote region with which we have now hardly any 
concern. The position of the Nicene Creed in our Liturgy is 
a perpetual memorial of the distant East. Other like memorials 
remain in the " Kyrie eleison," the " Gloria in excelsis," parts 
of the " Te Deum," and the prayer of S. Chrysostom. But 
more remarkable than these, as a link uniting our worship with 
that of Alexandria and Constantinople, is the Creed which was 
elaborated by the Egyptian and Syrian Bishops at Nicaea. 

II. But I have also to show that this Oriental assembly, this 
Greek confession, have a place in the universal history of the 

To a certain degree, and perhaps by a kind of prescriptive 
right, this general interest attaches, as their name would imply, 
to all the Eastern Councils to which by the Greek, the Latin, or 
the Protestant Churches the title of "general" or "oecu- 
menical " has been conceded. The eight Councils, as 
enumerated by the Latins, the seven as enumerated by the 
Greeks, all turned on controversies producing more important 
effects than have followed on any action of the Oriental Church 
in later times. The doctrines of the first four were raised by 
the Emperor Justinian to the level of the Holy Scriptures, and 
their decrees to the rank of Imperial laws ; l and they have even 
received a limited acknowledgment in the Church of England. 
It is well known that in one of the earliest acts of Elizabeth, 
which undoubtedly has considerable authority as expressive of 
the mind of the foundress of the present constitution of our 
Church' the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and 
Chalcedon are raised as judges of heresy to the same level as 
" the High Court of Parliament, with the assent of the English 

1 "Dogmata, sicut sanctas scripturas accipimus, et regulas sicut leges 
observamus." In Aulhenticis, collatione ix. tit. vi. De Ecclesiasticis 
Regulis et Privilegiis. (Routh's Opusc. i. 363. ) 

IO2 The Council of Nicaea and 

clergy in -their convocation,"! Even at the present day, in 
spite of the vast accumulation of dogmatic statements in our 
popular Western theology, it is acknowledged by many English 
churchmen that "besides the decrees of the four General 
Councils, nothing is to be required as matter of belief necessary 
for salvation." 2 

Still we cannot say that the importance of all these early 
Councils is fully recognised. Their official decrees have never 
gained a place, and are never even mentioned, in our 
formularies. The fifth, sixth, and seventh are rarely named 
by Protestant theologians. The fourth (that of Chalcedon) is, 
as we have seen, rejected by a large part of the East. The 
third (of Ephesus) is repudiated by the Chaldsean Christians ; 
and its distinguishing formula, "The Mother of God," has 
never been frankly accepted by Protestant Churches. 

The Council of Constantinople was avowedly only an Eastern 
assembly. Not a single Western bishop was present; and 
its oecumenical character, after having been entirely passed 
over by the Council of Ephesus, was only tardily acknowledged 
by the Council of Chalcedon. 

But with the Nicene assembly it is otherwise. Alone of all 
the Councils, it still retains a hold on the mass of Christendom. 
Its creed, as we just now saw, is the only creed accepted 
throughout the Universal Church. The Apostles' Creed and 
the Athanasian Creed have never been incorporated into the 
ritual of the Greek Church. But the Nicene Creed, Greek 
and Eastern though it be, has a place in the liturgies and 
confessions of all Western Churches, at least down to the end 
of the sixteenth century. It was regarded at the time, and 
long afterwards, even by Councils which chafed under the 
acknowledgment, as a final settlement of the fundamental 
doctrines of Christianity ; and so in a certain sense it has been 
regarded by many theologians of later times. 

And, if we examine the relations of this Council to the 
history of the period, its superiority to the later Councils will 
still hold good. 

i. Eutychianism, Nestorianism, Apollinarianism, represent 
sects which, except in the remote East, have not, nor have ever 
had, any lasting significance. But the Arian sect, the occasion 
of the Nicene Council, though it also has now long been laid 

1 i Eliz. c. i. 

2 Bishop Taylor's "Advice to his Clergy," quoted in the Enchiridion 
Theologicum, i. 348, and in the Oxford Controversial Sermons of 1856. 

the Seven General Councils 103 

to sleep, yet for three hundred years after the date of its origin 
was a considerable power, both political and religious; and 
this, not only in the Eastern regions of its birth, but in our 
own Western and Teutonic nations. The whole of the vast 
Gothic population which descended on the Roman Empire, 
so far as it was Christian at all, held to the faith of 
the Alexandrian heretic. Our first Teutonic version of the 
Scriptures was by an Arian missionary, Ulfilas. The first 
conqueror of Rome, Alaric, the first conqueror of Africa, 
Genseric, were Arians. Theodoric the Great, King of Italy, 
and hero of the Nibelungen Lied, was an Arian. The vacant 
place in his massive tomb at Ravenna is a witness of the 
vengeance which the Orthodox took on his memory, when on 
their triumph they tore down the porphyry vase in which his 
Arian subjects had enshrined his ashes. The ferocious 
Lombards were Arians till they began to be won over by their 
queen Theodelinda, at the close of the sixth century. But the 
most remarkable strongholds of Arianism were the Gothic 
kingdoms of Spain and Southern France. In France, it 
needed all the power of Clovis, the one orthodox chief of the 
barbarian nations, to crush it on the plains of Poitiers. In 
Spain, it expired only in the sixth century, when it was 
renounced by King Recared in the basilica of Toledo. But 
even in that "most Catholic" kingdom its traces have been 
thought to remain in the heretical names which elsewhere in 
Europe had ceased to exist. The favourite divine of Philip 
II., the first librarian of the Escurial, was "Arias Montanus." 
And of the intensity of the Spanish struggle between the 
ancient expiring heresy and the new triumphant orthodoxy, 
three memorials still remain in all Western liturgies, including 
our own. One is the constant recitation of what was then 
considered the orthodox formula "Gloria Patri, et Filio et 
Spiritui Sancto " at the close of every psalm. Another is the 
practice (adopted from the Eastern Church) of reciting the 
Nicene Creed in its present place before the administration of 
the Eucharist, to guard that ordinance against Arian intruders. 
The third is the insertion of the words " filioque " into the 
Creed a3 an additional safeguard for the Creed itself. 1 These 
three innovations (as they then were) are all said to have 
proceeded from the Councils of Toledo, in their reaction from 
the vanquished Arianism. 

1 See Lecture VII. 

IO4 The Council of Nicaea and 

It implies an immense vitality inherent in the orthodox 
doctrine established at Nicaea, that it should have won its way 
against such formidable antagonists, and should have securely 
seated itself in the heart of the Church for so many subsequent 

Constantine, indeed, and even at intervals Athanasius 
himself, endeavoured to moderate the zeal to which the eager 
partisans on both sides pursued their quarrel at the time ; and 
looking back from later times, Erasmus 1 in the Reformation, 
and Bishop Kaye in our own age, have regarded the controversy 
as carried to a pitch beyond any bounds which faith or wisdom 
could reasonably sanction. But the importance of its actual 
effects at the time, and for some centuries afterwards, on the 
opinions and the feelings of Christendom, can hardly be 
overstated, and the final result is one of those victories which 
go far to justify the cause itself. 

Nor has the interest of the controversy entirely ceased with 
the final extermination of the Arian sect by the sword of 
Clovis, and the conversion of Recared and Theodelinda. 
From that time no doubt the continuous existence of the Arian 
tradition was broken ; and no system of opinions which has 
since arisen can be considered as in any true historical sense 
the representative of the old Alexandrian and Gothic heresy. 
The Arianism (as it is sometimes called) of Milton, of Whiston, 
and of Sir Isaac Newton, differed in three important particulars 
(which shall shortly be described 2 hereafter) from the system 
of Arius and Eusebius. Nothing is more needed in Eccle- 
siastical history than to guard against the illusion of inferring 
an identity of belief and feeling, merely from an identity of 
name. The Anabaptists of the nineteenth century are hardly 
more different from the Anabaptists of the sixteenth, than the 
Arians of the seventeenth century were from the Arians of 
the fourth. 

Still the fundamental principle of the old Arianism, as 
separate from the logical form and the political organisation 
which it assumed, has hardly ever departed from the Church. 3 
It has penetrated where we should least expect to find it. 
The theological opinions of many who have thought themselves, 
and been thought by others, most orthodox, have been deeply 
coloured by the most conspicuous tendencies of the doctrine 

1 See Ittig's Council of Nicea, xlvii. 2 See Lecture III. 

3 On this more general aspect of the controversy, I shall enlarge in 
Lecture VII. 

the Seven General Councils 105 

of Arius. Often men have been attacked as heretics, only 
because they agreed too closely with the doctrine of Athanasius. 
" Ingemuit orbis et miratus est se esse Arianum," is a process 
which has been strangely repeated, more than once, in the 
course of ecclesiastical' history. To track such identity under 
seeming differences, and such differences under seeming 
identity, is a duty prescribed to the Christian theologian by 
the very highest authority. 

2. But over and above the magnitude of the question dis- 
cussed between Arius and Athanasius, there are other consider- 
ations which make the first Nicene Council a fruitful field of 
ecclesiastical study. 

It was the earliest great historical event, so to speak, which 
had affected the whole Church since the close of the Apostolic 
age. In the two intervening centuries there had been many 
stirring incidents, two or three great writers, abundance of 
curious and instructive usages. But all was isolated and frag- 
mentary. Even the persecutions are imperfectly known. We 
are still in the catacombs : here and there a light appears to 
guide .us ; here and there is the authentic grave of a saint and 
a martyr, or the altar or picture of a primitive assembly ; but 
the regular course of ecclesiastical history is still waiting to 
begin, and it does not begin till the Council of Nicsea. Then, 
for the first time, the Church meets the Empire face to face. 
The excitement, the shock, the joy, the disappointment, the 
hope of the meeting communicate themselves to us. It is one 
of those moments in the history of the world which occur once, 
and cannot be repeated. It is the last point whence we can 
look back on the dark, broken road of the second and third 
centuries, of which I have just spoken. It is the first point 
whence we can look forward to the new and comparatively 
smooth and easy course which the Church will have to pursue 
for two centuries, indeed, in some sense, for twelve centuries 
onwards. The line of demarcation between the Nicene and 
the ante-Nicene age, is the most definite that we shall find till 
we arrive at the invasion of the barbarians. 

The form, too, which this decisive event assumed, is memor- 
able as -the first of a series of events which have now become 
extinct. The Council of Nicaea is the first "General Council" 
the first of that long series of eighteen synods which ended, 
and in all probability has ended for ever, in the Council of 
Trent. In the church in which was held the last session 
of that latest of the Councils, is a vaunting inscription, which 

E 2 

io6 The Council of Nicaea and 

unconsciously conveys the truth that this was the end of the 
succession, of which it brought up the rear : 




Wide as was the difference between the first and the last, 
yet still there is a family likeness, which renders each an 
illustration of the other; and which, therefore, renders the 
study of any one of them a study of all. Of all the institutions 
recorded in ecclesiastical history they are, or ought to be, the 
most significant. And, if the first Council of Nicaea be the 
one which, by its antiquity and its sanctity, commands the 
most general homage, we shall have in its sessions the advantage 
of observing a Council under the most favourable circumstances. 

There are three characteristics which were fixed in the Council 
of Nicsea, and which it shared more or less with all that followed. 

(a) First, as its name implies, it is the earliest example of 
a large assembly professing to represent the voice and the 
conscience of the whole Christian community. Meetings and 
synods there had been before, but this was the first open 
inauguration of them in the face of day. Its title at the time 
was, in contradistinction to all which had gone before "The 
Great and Holy Synod." 

It was the decisive sanction of the doctrine that a free and 
numerous assembly is the best channel for arriving at Christian 
truth. Obviously this was not the necessary or only course 
to have been pursued. In heathen ages, and also in many 
Christian ages, decisions have been sought in particular spots, 
or from particular persons, oracles, hermits, shrines, gifted 

the Seven General Councils 107 

men, sovereigns, bishops, popes. But none of these courses 
were adopted in the first times of the Church. Even as far 
back as the apostolic age the most important question which 
agitated the Christian community was determined, not, indeed, 
by a gathering of different Churches, but still by an assembly 
in some respects far more democratic than any which succeeded. 
The Council of Jerusalem consisted not only of the apostles 
and elders, but of the brethren also. It was a decision of the 
whole Church of Jerusalem, laity as well as clergy. This, as 
far as we know, was the last instance of such an extension of 
the legislative body of the Church. But the principle of a 
popular as distinguished from an individual authority was 
recognised in all the provincial synods, and was finally adopted 
on the grandest scale at the Nicene Council. Freedom and 
deliberation were thus proclaimed to be the best means of 
deciding a question of high Christian doctrine. Whether the 
means succeeded or not, is not now the question. But it is 
remarkable that in that age of despotism and political inactivity 
it should have been adopted at all. As it has been said that 
the early Christian bishops were the only likenesses of the 
tribunes of the ancient Roman republic, so it may be said that 
the Councils were the only likenesses of the ancient Roman 
senates. The old spirit of liberty, which had died away or 
been suppressed everywhere else, revived, or was continued, 
in the ecclesiastical synods of the Empire, just as now in 
France, free discussion, banished from all other places, still 
maintains its hold in the literary and scientific meetings of the 
Institute. The Christian Church is not the only religious 
system which has had the courage to intrust its highest interests 
to the decision of large and, at times, tumultuous assemblies ; 
it is 6ne of the curious parallels often observed between 
Christianity and the outward forms of the wide-spread religion 
of Buddhism, that there also general councils 1 have been called 
to decide questions of faith and discipline. But this is the 
only parallel. Nothing of the kind existed in ancient Paganism,, 
and nothing of the kind has arisen in modern Mahomedanism. 
Whatever might be the disadvantages and weaknesses attendant 
upon tHe institution, the Christian Church must have the credit 
of having made the effort of giving to all its members a voice 
in the settlement of its highest interests, and of uniting all the 

1 Fort he Buddhist councils see Tumour's translation of the Mahawanso, 
i. 11-43. The first council was held B.C. 543 ; the second, B.C. 443 ; the 
third, B.C. 309. 

io8 The Council of Nicaea and 

various elements of which it was composed, from time to time, 
for one common purpose. 

And they are also the first precedents of the principle of 
representative government. The Nicene Council, like those 
which followed, and (with the exception of that recorded in 
the Acts of the Apostles) like those which preceded, consisted 
chiefly, if not exclusively, of bishops. But the bishops at that 
time were literally the representatives 1 of the Christian com- 
munities over which they presided. They were elected by 
universal suffrage, and they considered themselves responsible 
to their constituents, to a degree which at times reminds us, 
even painfully, of the vices of modern constitutional govern- 
ment. Eusebius felt himself bound to explain to his diocese 
at Csesarea the grounds on which he had given his vote at 
Nicaea; and at Chalcedon, so intense was the fear of their 
countrymen entertained by the Egyptian bishops, that they 
threw themselves in an agony at the feet of the Council, with 
the cry of, "Spare us kill us here if you will but do not 
send us home to certain death. The whole province of Egypt 
will rise against us." 2 

(b) Another characteristic of a General Council first exempli- 
fied at Nicsea is stated in somewhat polemical language, but 
still with substantial truth, in the well-known words of the 
2ist of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England: 
" General Councils may not be gathered together but by the 
commandment and will of Princes." 

What the Article here states controversially as against the 
Church of Rome, was a recognised fact and principle in the 
historical constitution of a General Council. It was almost 
implied in the meaning of the word. An "CEcumenical 
Synod," that is, an "Imperial gathering" from the whole 
oiKovpcvT}, or Empire (for this was the technical meaning of 
the word, even in the Greek 3 of the New Testament), could 
be convened only by the Emperor. This was assumed as a 
matter of course in the case of Nicaea, and indeed of all the 
Eastern Councils. Not only no single bishop, but no single 
prince 4 (unless we take the word in its most ancient sense), 

1 lvTo\cis. Mansi, Concil. vii. 58. 

2 See Mansi, Concil. vii. 57. 

3 See Luke ii. I. 

4 We must bear in mind, that in the sixteenth century the word " prince " 
was used for "sovereign," as, e.g., in the case of Elizabeth, and probably 
it was here used in its classical sense for the ' ' Princeps " or Roman Emperor. 

the Seven General Councils 109 

was sufficient to convene a general assembly from all parts of 
that vast territory. A Council was part, as it were, of the 
original constitution of the Christian Empire; and however 
much disputed afterwards in the entanglement of civil and 
ecclesiastical relations in the West, the principle has never 
been wholly abandoned. When the Western Empire fell, the 
Eastern Emperor still retained the inalienable right ; and when 
the Eastern Emperor became inaccessible to the needs of 
European Christendom, and a new "Holy Roman Empire" 
was erected in the West, then the Emperor of Germany (solely, 
or, more properly, conjointly with his Byzantine brother) 
succeeded to the rights of Constantine. We shall see in the 
forms of the Council of Nicsea the earliest precedents, not so 
much of our ecclesiastical synods as of our parliaments, con- 
vened by the writ of the sovereign, opened by his personal 
presence, swayed by his personal wishes and advice. And if 
we look from the first to the fourth General Council, of which 
the forms are more fully preserved, and in which perhaps the 
independence both of the Roman citizen and of the Christian 
bishop had sunk to a lower pitch, we shall see in the reception 
of the Emperor Marcian and the Empress Pulcheria, who 
came with their whole court to ratify the decrees of Chalcedon, 
something more than a mere nominal presidency. The as- 
sembled bishops exclaimed (and here I give the words as 
reported at the time) "To Marcian, the new Constantine, 
the new Paul, the new David, long years long years to our 
sovereign lord David. . . . You are the peace of the world, 
long life. Your faith will defend you. Thou honourest Christ. 
He will defend thee. Thou hast established orthodoxy. . . . 
To the august Empress, many years. You are the lights of 
orthodoxy. . . . Orthodox from her birth, God will defend 
her. Defender of the faith, may God defend her. Pious, 
orthodox enemy of heretics, God will defend her. Thou hast 
persecuted all the heretics. May the evil eye be averted from 
your Empire. Worthy of the faith, worthy of Christ. So are 
the faithful sovereigns honoured. . . . Marcian is the new 
Constantine, Pulcheria is the new Helena. . . . Your life is 
the safety of all ; your faith is the glory of the churches. By 
thee the world is at peace; by thee the orthodox faith is 
established ; by thee heresy ceases to be : long life to the 
Emperor and Empress." 1 

1 Mansi, vii. 170. 

no The Council of Nicaea and 

This secular character (I use the word in no invidious sense), 
thus stamped upon the institution of Councils from the first, 
they never lost. Western Christendom, separated from the 
Byzantine Imperial court, and never completely subjugated to 
its own Imperial head in Germany, was not equally depen- 
dent on the Emperor for its general assemblies. But they 
were still cast in the same Imperial mould. The sanction of 
the Emperor was still required. 1 An appeal to a General 
Council was the half temporal, half spiritual weapon which the 
Emperors and Kings of Europe always held in reserve as a 
rejoinder to a Papal interdict. Even so submissive a sovereign 
as Philip II. did not hesitate to use the threat to the refractory 
Paul IV. Even so late as the Council of Constance, the 
Emperor Sigismund appeared in person. In the Council of 
Trent, the ambassadors of all the courts of Europe were there 
to represent their absent masters. The Imperial ambassador 
sits in the highest place, the French the next, and the Spaniard, 
unwilling to concede the second place to any one but the most 
Catholic king, sits proudly aloof in the centre. 

It is important to notice this control and admixture of 
secular and lay authority, not only allowed but courted by the 
highest and most venerable of ecclesiastical synods, because it 
may tend to reconcile sensitive churchmen of our own country 
to a like control over English convocations, or Scottish general 
assemblies. 2 It further reminds us how the Councils of the 
Church, in -the time of their grandeur, were mixed up with the 
general history of the world, and thus became the expression of 
the age. The Council of Nicsea was, in the eyes of its con- 
temporaries, far the most important gathering that had taken 
place in the Roman Empire in the time of Constantine, or 
even since the virtual suppression of the Roman senate. The 
Council of Constance was at least as closely interwoven with 
all the passions and feelings of the fifteenth century, as the 
Congress of Vienna could have been with those of the 
nineteenth. It is well also to remember that this intimate 
connection of the Councils with the constitution of the ancient 
Empire, furnishes one strong ground for the prediction, which 

1 The first Pope, said to have called a Council, is Pelagius IT., A.D. 587. 
But the Epistle in which the right is claimed is a forgery. (Robertson, i. 
547, 2nd ed. ) 

2 See " The Councils of the Church," by Dr. Pusey written with the 
express intention of allaying the alarms of English churchmen occas : oned 
by the theological decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. 

the Seven General Councils in 

I ventured to make just now, that in all probability a General 
Council will never be held again. According to the only 
precedents universally recognised, an GEcumenical Synod 
cannot be summoned except by the Emperor, and the 
" Emperor," in that sense of the word in which alone he could 
be made available, has ceased to exist. There is now no 
longer an Empire of the West ; the modern Empire of Austria 
and the modern Empire of France are merely separate 
kingdoms under lofty titles. There is, in a truer sense, an 
Emperor of the East. But no one will suppose it probable 
that the authority of the Russian Czar would ever be recognised 
in the kingdoms or Churches of the West, even putting aside 
the intense ecclesiastical animosity with which the Latin 
Church would regard any such attempt. General Councils were 
part and parcel of the Imperial Constitution of Europe but 
with the dissolution of that venerable fabric they have, we may 
be almost sure, been laid aside in their ancient form never to 

(c) And this prepares us to consider the remaining portion of 
the somewhat harsh, but still, as I said, incontestable, de- 
scription of them in the language of the twenty-first Article. 
" When they be gathered together " (at that time, we may here 
observe, the Article contemplated the recurrence of the event 
as not entirely impossible), " forasmuch as they be assemblies 
of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and word 
of God, they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in 
things pertaining unto God." It is absolutely necessary to 
claim the freedom of criticism on which these words insist. 
With every disposition to honour these assemblies, with every 
desire to make allowance for their weaknesses, and to esteem 
the results of their labours, it is impossible to understand 
them rightly, or even to do justice to their merits, without 
remembering throughout that they were assemblies of fallible 
men, swayed by the good and evil influences to which all 
assemblies are exposed. 

We need not adopt the extreme terms of condemnation into 
which Gregory Nazianzen l was driven, irritated, no doubt, by 
the excesses which he himself witnessed : " I never yet saw a 
council of bishops come to a good end." " I salute them afar 
off, since I know how troublesome they are." " I never more 
will sit in those assemblies of cranes and geese." It is enough 

1 Ep. 124, 136 j Carm. xvii. 91. 

H2 The Council of Nicaea and 

to remember, in the wise language of Dean Milman, how 
almost inevitable is the disappointment which we experience 
on finding the repulsive aspect which Christianity assumes in 
the very assemblies which should represent it in its best 
and most attractive form. "A General Council," he justly 
observes, 1 " is not the cause but the consequence of religious 
dissension. It is unnecessary, and could hardly be convoked, 
but on extraordinary occasions to settle some questions which 
have already violently disorganised the peace of Christendom. 
It is a field of battle in which a long train of animosities and 
hostilities is to come to an issue. Men, therefore, meet with 
all the excitement, the estrangement, the jealousy, the anti- 
pathy, engendered by a fierce and obstinate controversy. They 
meet to triumph over their adversaries, rather than dispassion- 
ately to investigate truth. Each is committed to his opinions, 
each exasperated by opposition, each supported by a host of 
intractable followers, each probably with exaggerated notions 
of the importance of the question, and that importance seems 
to increase, since it has demanded the decision of a general 
assembly of Christendom." 

Let us approach the Council of Nicoea with these humbler 
expectations, and we shall be agreeably surprised to find how 
many incidents of moderation and charity and simplicity it 
contains amidst much fierce animosity, and much pardonable 

There is a well-known, perhaps somewhat flippant, passage, 
in which Jortin remarks on the possible motives by which 
such an assembly would be influenced: "It may be," he 
says, " by reverence to the Emperor, or to his councillors and 
favourites, or the fear of offending some great prelate (as the 
Bishop of Alexandria or of Rome), who had it in his power to 
insult, vex, and plague all the bishops within and without his 
jurisdiction ; by the dread of passing for heretics, and of being 
calumniated, reviled, hated, anathematised, excommunicated, 
imprisoned, banished, fined, beggared, starved, if they refused 
to submit ; by the love of peace and quiet ; by the hatred of 
contention ; by compliance with an active body and imperious 
spirit ; by a deference to the majority ; by a love of dictating 
and domineering, of applause and respect; by vanity and 
ambition ; by a total ignorance of the question in debate, or 
a total indifference about it ; by private friendships ; by enmity 

1 Latin Christianity, i. 156. 

the Seven General Councils 113 

and resentment ; by old prejudices ; by hopes of gain ; by an 
indolent disposition; by good nature and the fatigue of attend- 
ing ; by the desire to be at home, &c., &c., &c." * Many of 
these feelings may doubtless have been at work in the sittings 
of Nicsea ; indeed the passage must have been partly suggested 
by the enumeration of motives in the history of Eusebius. 2 
But we have every reason to suppose that such passions had 
far less control over the Council of Nicaea than over those 
which followed. It would be easy to multiply instances of the 
crimes and follies which disfigured the Christian assemblies 
of later times. We need not dwell on the exceptional case of 
the murder of John Huss at Constance, or repeat how at the 
second Council of Ephesus the Bishop of Constantinople was 
trampled down and stamped to death by the Bishop of 
Alexandria. But it may be well to give one authentic scene 
from the Council of Chalcedon, in numbers and in dignity 
far the most distinguished of the Seven. 3 I quote from the 
Report of the Council itself. The moment is that of the 
Imperial officers ordering that Theodoret, the excellent Bishop 
of Kars, well known as the commentator and ecclesiastical 
historian, should enter the assembly : " And when the most 
reverend Bishop Theodoret entered, the most reverend the 
Bishops of Egypt, Illyria, and Palestine shouted out ' Mercy 
upon us ! the faith is destroyed. The canons of the Church 
excommunicate him. Turn him out ! turn out the teacher 
of Nestorius ! ' On the other hand, the most reverend the 
Bishops of the East, of Thrace, of Pontus, and of Asia, shouted 
out * We were compelled [at the former Council] to subscribe 
our names to blank papers ; we were scourged into submission. 
Turn out the Manichaeans. Turn out the enemies of Flavian ; 
turn out the adversaries of the faith ! ' Dioscorus, the most 
reverend Bishop of Alexandria, said 'Why is Cyril to be 
turned out? It is he whom Theodoret has condemned.' 
The most reverend the Bishops of the East shouted out 
'Turn out the murderer Dioscorus. Who knows not the 
deeds of Dioscorus?' . . . The most reverend the Bishops 
of Egypt, Illyria, and Palestine, shouted out 'Long life 
to the Empress ! ' The most reverend the Bishops of the 
East shouted out 'Turn out the murderers!' The most 
reverend the Bishops of Egypt shouted out 'The Empress 
turned out Nestorius ; long life to the Catholic Empress ! The 

1 Remarks on Eccl. History, i. 188. 2 Eus. V. C. iii. 6. 

8 Mansi, vi. 590, 591. 

H4 The Council of Nicaea and 

Orthodox synod refuses to admit Theodoret.'" Theodoret 
then being at last received by the Imperial officers, and taking 
his place, the most reverend Bishops of the East shouted out 
" ' He is worthy worthy.' The most reverend the Bishops 
of Egypt shouted out ' Don't call him bishop, he is no bishop. 
Turn out the fighter against God; turn out the Jew/ The 
most reverend the Bishops of the East shouted out 'The 
Orthodox for the synod. Turn out the rebels ; turn out the 
murderers.' The most reverend the Bishops of Egypt ' Turn 
out the enemy of God. Turn out the defamer of Christ. 
Long life to the Empress, long life to the Emperor, long life to 
the Catholic Emperor ! Theodoret condemned Cyril. If we 
receive Theodoret, we excommunicate Cyril.'" 

At this point the Imperial Commissioners who were present 
put a stop to the clamour, as unworthy a meeting of Christian 
bishops. We shall, doubtless, agree with them. My object 
in recalling so scandalous a scene has been, first, that we may 
not form too high a standard of what we are to expect from 
the first Council j secondly, that we may be the better able to 
do justice to its undoubted superiority over the conduct of the 
later assemblies. 

But we must not forget the good as well as the evil which 
the Councils and not least that of Nicaea shared with all 
large assemblies of fallible men everywhere ; namely, the 
unconscious moderation which springs up from bringing two 
parties face to face with each other. No doubt violent and 
extreme partisans are often exasperated against one another 
by personal contact and conflict. But the vast mass of inter- 
vening shades of opinion is by such meetings drawn more 
closely together. Probably no Council has separated without 
making some friends who were before enemies, and some 
friends closer than before. Such, in an eminent degree, was 
the express object and result of the Apostolic Council at Jeru- 
salem. No doubt even then there was the separation between 
Paul and Barnabas, and the quarrel between Paul and Peter. 
But on the whole the assembly brought together, instead of 
dividing asunder, the true servants of Christ. It agreed to 
tolerate, without approving or condemning, the differences 
which it was called to adjudge. The Jewish Apostles gave the 
right hand of fellowship to the Apostle of the Gentiles. The 
Church of Jerusalem determined not to lay upon the Gentiles 
the yoke which it was willing to bear itself. Assemblies so 
minded, and so deciding, have doubtless been very rare. But 

the Seven General Councils 115 

both in intention and effect the Council of Nicaea partook 
largely of that first Apostolic example. The estimation in which 
we at this moment hold the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea, 
is a proof of the kindly feeling which then gathered round 
him and his party, and which has never since been entirely 
dissipated. The professed object of those who directed the 
decisions of the Council was to include as wide a number as 
possible ; and every succeeding Council and creed (with what- 
ever provocation or justification for doing so) has yet been a 
narrowing of the basis on which the first Council took its 

III. Such being the general interest of the Council of 
Nicaea, there are several peculiarities in its history which render 
the study of it instructive in detail. 

1. The original narratives are in great measure derived from 
contemporary sources. The Acts, indeed, or Reports of the 
Council (such as are preserved in the case of the Councils of 
Ephesus and Chalcedon), never existed, or have perished. 
But the decrees and the official letters of the Council and of the 
Emperor remain ; and we have the accounts, more or less 
perfect, of not less than four eye-witnesses. 

2. Both amongst these eye-witnesses, and amongst the later 
historians, we have the help which in all history, especially 
ecclesiastical history, is much to be desired, of the representa- 
tions of both sides. As in the history of the Council of Trent 
we have the double account of Pallavicini and Sarpi, so here we 
have the double account of Athanasius and Eusebius. Gibbon 
longs for a Sarpi at Nicaea. But, in fact, we have a Paul Sarpi, 
not indeed as regards wisdom or learning, but certainly as 
regards his indifference, if not hostility, to the successful party 
of the Council, in Eusebius himself. Without entering into the 
much-disputed question of the precise shade of his Arianism, 
there can be no doubt of his leaning to that side ; and so far, 
therefore, it cannot be said that the defeated party have been 
left without a spokesman ; and on the same side we must add 
the fragments from the avowed Arian, Philostorgius. The 
Meletians, in like manner, (to take a smaller section of the 
Council,") are represented by Epiphanius ; the Novatians, by 
the aged informant of Socrates. Of the three chief historians 
of the next generation, two (Socrates and Sozomen) are not 
clergymen, but laymen and lawyers ; and of these Socrates is at 
times quite remarkable for his philosophical candour ; and the 
third, Theodoret, although a bishop and a theologian, belonged 

n6 The Council of Nicaea 

to the moderate party in the Church, and had at one time been 
himself under a grave suspicion of heresy. 

3. The legendary tales which have been formed on the basis 
of the historical facts have a twofold interest. They well 
represent those two classes which Arnold has described in his 
history of Rome, 1 " equally remote from historical truth, but in 
all other respects most opposite to each other; the one 
imaginative but honest, playing with facts, and converting 
them into a wholly different form, but addressing itself also to 
a different part of the mind; not professing to impart exact 
knowledge, but to quicken and raise the perception of what is 
beautiful and noble ; the other, tame and fraudulent, deliberately 
corrupting truth, in order to minister to national or individual 
vanity, but substituting in the place of reality the represent- 
ations of interested or servile falsehood." To the former of 
these classes belongs, in the old Roman history, the legend 
of the fall of Veii ; in the history of Nicsea, the legends of the 
different saints who were present. To the latter belong, in 
the Pagan history, the pretended victory of Camillus over the 
Gauls ; in the Christian history, the inventions intended to 
exalt the see of Rome, or to blacken the character of the 
Arians. 2 Both are instructive. The former convey to us a 
sense of the deep impression made by the Council on the 
popular mind. The latter exhibit to us what the history would 
have been (but is not) had it taken place according to the 
theories and wishes of later times. 

4. The details which, from whatever quarter, we thus gain of 
the Nicene Council are far more important than they would be 
in any other Council. They disclose to us a section of the 
different layers of society in that period. The effect of this is, 
that we share in the good fortune of those who attended the 
Council, and through their eyes become personally acquainted 
with many of the most famous personages of that age some 
famous in all ages. Most of them we shall sufficiently see in 
the Council itself. 3 But there are two whose eminence so far 
transcends the limits of that particular event, and the under- 
standing of whose characters is so necessary for the understand- 
ing of the whole event, as to demand a special notice. It will 
be worth while to have known something of the Council, if 
only it enables us to take a nearer view of two men so 
extraordinary as Constantine 4 and Athanasius. 5 

1 i. 393. 2 Lectures III. and V. 3 Lecture III. 

4 Lecture VI. 6 Lecture VII. 



IN the close of the month of May, 1853, it was my good 
fortune to be descending, in the moonlight of an early morning, 
from the high wooded steeps of one of the mountain ranges of 
Bithynia. As the dawn rose, and as we approached the foot of 
these hills, through the thick mists which lay over the plain, 
there gradually broke upon our view the two features which 
mark the city of Nicsea. 

Beneath us lay the long inland lake the Ascanian Lake 
which, communicating at its western extremity by a small 
inlet with the Sea of Marmora, fills up almost the whole 
valley; itself a characteristic of the conformation of this 
part of Asia Minor. Such another is the Lake of Apollonius, 
seen from the summit of the Mysian Olympus. Such another 
is the smaller lake seen in traversing the plain on the way from 

At the head of the lake appeared the oblong space enclosed 
by the ancient walls, of which the rectangular form indicates 
with unmistakable precision the original founders of the city. 
It was the outline given to all the Oriental towns built by 
the successors of Alexander and their imitators. Alexandria, 
Antioch, Damascus, Philadelphia, Sebaste, Palmyra, were all 
constructed on the same model of a complete square, inter- 
sected by four straight streets adorned with a colonnade on 
each side. This we know to have been the appearance of 
Nicsea, 1 as founded by Lysimachus and rebuilt by Antigonus. 
And this is still the form of the present walls, which, although 
they enclose a larger space than the first Greek city, yet are 
evidently as early as the time of the Roman Empire ; little later, 
if at all, than the reign of Constantine. Within their circuit 
all is now a wilderness ; over broken columns, and through 
tangled thickets, the traveller with difficulty makes his way 
to the wretched Turkish village of Is-nik (eis Nucatav), which 
occupies the centre of the vacant space. In the midst of this 
village, surrounded by a few ruined mosques on whose sum- 
mits stand the never-failing storks of the deserted cities of the 
East, remains a solitary Christian church, dedicated to " the 

1 Strabo, xii. 565. 


n8 The Council of Nicaea 

Repose of the Virgin." Within the church is a rude picture 
commemorating the one event which, amidst all the vicissitudes 
of Nicaea, has secured for it an immortal name. 

To delineate this event, to transport ourselves back into the 
same season of the year, the chestnut woods then as now 
green with the first burst of summer, the same sloping hills, the 
same tranquil lake, the same snow-capped Olympus from far 
brooding over the whole scene, but, in every other respect, how 
entirely different ! will be my object in this Lecture. 

The meeting of a General Council is, as I have elsewhere 
said, in ecclesiastical history, what a pitched battle is in military 
history, and similar questions naturally rise in speaking of each. 

I. The first question is, Why was it fought ? 

Two opposite forces concurred in bringing about the Council 
of Nicaea. 

i. The first was the Arian controversy. To enter into the 
details of the contest would lead me too far away from the 
subject, and they have been told sufficiently in histories acces- 
sible to all. But three points must be briefly mentioned to 
mark its precise connection with the events of the time. 

First : It was distinguished from all modern controversies on 
like subjects by the extremely abstract region within which it 
was confined. The difficulties which gave rise to the heresy of 
Arius had but a slight resemblance to those which have given 
birth to the opinions which have borne his name in modern 
times. He was led to adopt his peculiar dogma from a fancied 
necessity arising out of the terms "Father" and "Son;" 
" begotten " and " unbegotten." The controversy turned on the 
relations of the Divine Persons in the Trinity, not only before 
the Incarnation, before Creation, before Time, but before the 
first beginnings of Time. " There was " the Arian doctrine did ' 
not venture to say "a time" but "there was when He was 
not." It was the excess of dogmatism founded upon the most 
abstract words in the most abstract region of human thought. 

Secondly : A serious cause of the apprehension which the 
Arian doctrine excited, when the Orthodox considered the 
ultimate consequences to which it might lead them, was not so 
much its denial or infringement of the Divinity of Christ 
(although the controversy naturally opened into this further 
question) as its making two gods l instead of one, and thus 
relapsing into Polytheism. Polytheism, Paganism, Hellenism, 

1 For this "polytheism" of the Arians, see Dr. Newman's note on 
Athanasius's Treatises, i. p. 221, and Dr. Pusey's note on Joel iii. 9, p. 137. 

Meeting of the Council 119 

was the enemy from which the Church had just been delivered 
by Constantine ; and this was the enemy under whose dominion 
it was feared that the dividing, dogmatising spirit of Arius might 
bring them back. Greece and the East, far more than Italy and 
the West, were the true native seats of the old Pagan idolatries,, 
and therefore the Eastern, far more than the Western, Church 
was sensitive on the subject of anything that tended, even 
remotely, to revive the multiplication of deities. " I believe in 
God" was the usual formula of the Western creeds. But,, 
irrespectively of the Council of Nicaea, the formula of the Eastern 
creeds was "I believe in one 1 God" Whether or not the 
Polytheistic conclusion was fairly to be deduced from the Arian 
doctrine, it is certain that this was the inference which the 
Orthodox party feared, and to this fear peculiar significance was- 
given by the time and place in which the Arian doctrine first 

Thirdly (which is the most important point in reference to 
the actual convention of the council), was the intense vehemence 
with which the controversy was carried on. When we perceive 
the abstract questions on which it turned, when we reflect that 
they related not to any dealings of the Deity with man, not even, 
properly speaking, to the- Divinity or the Humanity of Christ, 
nor to the doctrine of the Trinity (for all these points were 
acknowledged by both parties), but to the ineffable relations of 
the Godhead before the remotest beginning of time, it is difficult 
to conceive that by inquiries such as these the passions of 
mankind should be roused to fury. Yet so it was at least in 
Egypt, where it first began. All classes took part in it, and 
almost all took part with equal energy. " Bishop rose against 
Bishop," says Eusebius, "district against district, only to be 
compared to the Symplegades dashed against each other on a 
stormy day." 2 So violent were the discussions that they were 
parodied in the Pagan theatres, and the Emperor's statues were 
broken in the public squares in the conflicts which took place. 
The common name by which the Arians and their system were 
designated (and we may conclude that they were not wanting in 
retorts) was the maniacs the Ariomaniacs, the Ariomania; 3 
and their frantic conduct on public occasions afterwards goes 

1 See Rufinus in Symb. 4, and the note in Professor Heurtley's Harmonia 
Symbolica, p. 127. The same feeling appears in the earnestness of the 
Eastern Church in behalf of the Single Procession. See Lecture I. p. 95.. 

2 Eus. V. C. iii. 4. . 

8 See Newman's note on Athanasius's Treatises, i. 91. 

I2O The Council of Nicaea 

far to justify the appellation. Sailors, millers, and travellers 
sang the disputed doctrines at their occupations or on their 
journeys : x " every corner, every alley of the city " (this is said 
afterwards of Constantinople, but must have been still more true 
of Alexandria) " was full of these discussions the streets, the 
market-places, the drapers, the money-changers, the victuallers. 
Ask a man 'how many oboli,' he answers by dogmatising on 
generated and ungenerated being. Inquire the price of bread, 
and you are told, ' The Son is subordinate to the Father/ Ask 
if the bath is ready, and you are told * The Son arose out of 
nothing.'" 2 

2. This was one side of the scene. On the other side arose 
a power and a character hitherto unknown in the Christian 
Church. The Emperor of the world now for the first time 
appeared in the arena of theological controversy. He entered 
upon his relations to the Church as a traveller enters a new 
country with high expectations, with hasty conclusions, with 
bitter disappointments. Of all these disappointments none 
was so severe as that which he_ felt when first he became 
acquainted with the fact that the Christian as well as the 
heathen commonwealth was torn by factions. It had broken 
upon him gradually first at Aries, then at Rome, when the 
African controversy of the Donatists was brought before him. 
But the culminating point was their wild outbreak, as it must 
have seemed to him, in the important province of Egypt. We 
know his feelings from himself. In the celebrated letter which 
he addressed to the Alexandrian Church however much it 
may have been suggested or modified by one or other of his 
episcopal advisers the sentiments are so like what he expressed 
on other occasions, that we may fairly adopt them as his own. 
He describes (as usual, with the attestation of an oath 3 ) his 
mission of uniting the world under one head. He expresses the 
hope with which he turned from the distracted West to the 
Eastern regions of his empire, as those from which Divine light 
had first sprung. " But, oh ! divine and glorious Providence, 
what wound has fallen on my ears nay, rather on my heart ! " 
And then, with an earnestness which it is difficult not to believe 
sincere, and with arguments which modern theologians have 
visited with the severest condemnation, but which the ancient 
and Orthodox historian, Socrates, has not hesitated to call 

1 See Lecture IV. 

2 Greg. Nyss. de Deitate Fil. iii. 466. (Neander, iv. 61.) 

3 See Lecture VL 

Meeting of the Council 121 

" wonderful and full of wisdom," l he entreats the combatants 
" to abandon these futile and interminable disputes, and to 
return to the harmony which became their common faith." 
" Give me back my calm days, and my quiet nights ; light and 
cheerfulness instead of tears and groans." He had come as far 
as Nicomedia, the capital of the East ; he entreats them to open 
for him the way to the East, and to enable him to see them and 
all rejoicing in restored freedom and unity. 2 His letter was in 
vain. The controversy had gone too far. The wound could 
be healed only by an extraordinary remedy. That remedy the 
Emperor was determined to provide. With the ardent desire 
for enforcing unanimity on those whom he was now called to 
govern, he combined a vague but profound reverence for the 
character and powers of the heads of the Christian community. 
From the union of these two feelings sprang (as he himself tells 
us, "by a divine inspiration") the first idea of convening a 
Council of the representatives of the whole Church. He may 
have been advised by the clergy 3 who were about him ; but he 
declares, and his declaration is confirmed by history, that the 
main conception, under God, was due to himself only. And if 
the idea was his, still more exclusively so was its execution. Not 
till many years afterwards was the claim put forward, that 
Sylvester, Bishop of Rome, had combined with him in convening 
the assembly. 4 The little gatherings in each diocese, often 
hardly more in numbers than the meeting of the vestry of a 
large parish, had been called together in former times by the 
Bishops of the respective dioceses. But the gathering of the 
Bishops themselves, from all parts of the Empire, could be 
effected only by a central authority which they all alike 
acknowledged ; and in the beginning of the fourth century that 
authority could be found nowhere but in the Emperor. 
Complimentary letters, accordingly, were addressed by him to 
all the Bishops. One of these has been preserved. It alludes 
to some similar intention (of which no other record exists) on 
the part of a small assembly of eighteen Bishops, which had met 
at Ancyra, in Galatia, nine years before, and then proceeds at 
once to name the place where the Council should meet. 5 

II. This leads us to ask what caused the selection of the 

1 i. 8 : Oavfj-affra Kai <ro(f>las fj.effrd. None of the ancient historians condemn 
the letter. 

2 Eus. V, C. ii. 68-73. - Ruf. i. i. 
4 Mansi (Cone. ii. 637). 

6 Anal. Nic. 21, or " Syriac Miscellanies," p. i. 

122 The Council of Nicaea 

locality. In General Councils, as in battles, this has always 
been a very important question. Look at Trent. Its situation 
immediately under the Alps, yet on the Italian side, exactly 
expresses the peculiarity of the assembly convened there. It 
was to be as near the dominions of the Emperor as was possible, 
without being altogether out of reach of the dominions of the 
Pope. It was to come as close to the confines of Protestantism 
as it could without crossing the barriers which parted it from 
them. Look at Pisa. It seems, so say those concerned in the 
event, 1 " as if the place was made for a council ; " a fertile plain 
abounding in gardens and vineyards for provisions and wine ; a 
river communicating with the sea accessible to French, Italians, 
and Germans. Look at Constance. Here, again, was a frontier 
situation a free city, therefore, to a certain extent, neutral 
between the contending parties on the banks of a large lake, 
which would both furnish easy mode of access, and also assist 
in furnishing provisions for so great an assemblage, especially 
fish in time of Lent. A name, too, of happy omen " Con- 
stantia," which alone is said to have induced the Pope to 
consent to the locality. 

Not unlike to the motives which determined these sites of 
the great Western Councils, were those, as far as we can see, 
which determined the site of the chief Council of the East. 
One reason is expressly alleged by the Emperor himself its 
healthy situation. 2 The mortality which took place amongst 
the Bishops at Ephesus, the violent disputes which raged 
amongst the medical authorities at Trent, as to the salubrity of 
the place, show the importance attached to this ground of selec- 
tion. It is not, however, the reason which might have been 
expected in the case of Nicsea. The rich alluvial plain had a 
character for insalubrity, especially in summer, 3 the very season 
when the Council was assembled ; and, according to tradition, 
as we shall see, two Bishops died during the session. But 
there were also political and religious reasons. Constantinople 
was not yet founded ; by the time of the second Council, this, 
the capital of the Eastern Empire, was at once chosen for the 
gathering of the Eastern Church. But, although the precise 
locality of the capital was not yet fixed, yet its general atmo- 
sphere, so to speak, hung already over the shores of thePropontis. 
Already this was the resort of the Eastern Caesars; and 
Nicomedia, the ancient capital of Bithynia, only twenty miles 

1 L'Enfant, Concile de Pise, ii. 26. z Syriac Misc. p. I. 

3 Strabo, xii. p. 565. 

Meeting of the Council 123 

from Nicaea, had, since the time of Diocletian, been chosen as 
the capital of the East. Nicomedia was probably rejected for 
two reasons. As in the case of Constance and Trent, a city not 
actually the seat of government would be more appropriate for 
the purpose of a sacred assembly. And again, considering the 
controversy at stake, it would hardly have been fitting to have 
held the meeting in Nicomedia, where the Bishop, Eusebius, 
had taken so active a part in defence of one of the combatants, 
and had already convoked a synod of Arian Bishops l in the 
neighbourhood. The second capital of Bithynia, therefore, 
Nicaea, naturally presented itself; its lake furnished means of 
access from the Propontis, and it was sufficiently near the Im- 
perial residence. " The Bishops of Italy, and from the rest of 
the countries of Europe, are coming " these are the Emperor's 
own words "and I shall be at hand as a spectator and 
participator in what is done." 2 Finally, the name, as afterwards 
in the case of Constance, was highly important. It was 
" Nicsea," the city of " victory," or "conquest." Its coins bore 
a figure of Victory. This fell in with Constantine's favourite 
title and watchword. 3 He was just fresh from the victory, over 
his second rival, which caused him to assume the surname of 
Nicetes the Victor, or the Conqueror. The motto seen, or 
alleged to be seen, in the apparition of the cross before his 
earlier victory, was the same word, eV TOVTW vt/ca " By this 
conquer ; " and Eusebius specially dwells on the strains of 
conquest 4 and victory, which harmonised with the name of the 
place, and regards the Council itself as a thank-offering for the 
victory just gained by the Emperor over all his enemies. 5 " It 
was a city, "he says, "fitting for the synod called after Victory, 
' the City of Victory,' or ' Nicaea.' " 6 

III. We are thus brought to the next point in connection 
with the convention of the Council, its date. The year of 
Christ 325 was the twentieth year of the reign of Constantine, 
reckoning from the 25th of July, 306, when he had been pro- 
claimed at York. Every tenth year of an Imperial reign was 
celebrated with solemn games and festivities, in recollection of 

1 Soz. L 15. 2 Analecta Nic. 2i._ 3 See Lecture VI. 

* V. C. iv. 47 : J) <rvvo8os tiriviicios %v . . . eirl r}\v Kar' e-^dpwv Kal 
iro\eiJ.l(av VIK V eVl r^s NiKotas OUTTJS tiriTeXovffct. Compare Eus. Laud. 
Const, v. 1 8. 

6 V. C. iii. 7 : Tt ? G.VTOV ffcoTTJpi rrjs KO.T' t^QpSav Kal 
Tf'is averidei -^apiffri] lov. 
V. C. iii. 6. : viKirjs firuvvfj-oS) TJ Nt/caTa. 

124 The Council of Nicaea 

the original conditions under which Augustus accepted the 
Imperial power, namely, that it should be renewed at the end of 
every ten years. 1 " The memory of this comedy," says Gibbon, 
" was preserved to the latest ages of the Empire ; " and, in the 
case of Constantine, it was characteristically blended with 
the events following his conversion. Of the Decennalia, or 
celebration of his tenth year, we have no account. But the 
Tricennalia, or thirtieth year, was marked by the dedication of 
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem ; 2 and the 
Vicennalia, or twentieth year, was expressly chosen as the time 
in which the solemnities of the first (Ecumenical Council might 
act the part usually played by mere pomp and festivity. 3 And 
if under any circumstances this would have been appropriate, 
much more so was it in the peculiar conjuncture of this anni- 
versary. It was little more than a year since Constantine, by 
the victory over Licinius to which I have just referred, became 
Emperor of the East as well as of the West. An Eastern 
Council would, in fact, have been almost impossible before this 
time, and accordingly the Arian controversy was of necessity 
allowed to roll on, unchecked, for five years, till the restoration 
of peace and the close of the civil war enabled the Emperor to 
turn his attention to the subject, and to make his last attempt 
to heal it. The year of the meeting of the Council, therefore, 
of itself, indicates the state of the world at large. In place and 
time alike, it marks the final victory of Constantine over his 
enemies, the settlement of the Eastern Empire, and the 
connection of that Empire with the fortunes of the Eastern 

The actual month and day of the meeting are more difficult 
to ascertain. The date of the opening varies from May 20 to 
May 29, June 14 and June 19. It is enough for our purpose 
to know that it took place somewhere near Whitsuntide, at the 
beginning of the summer. This was the usual time of the 
gathering of the Eastern Councils, 4 and was probably fixed 
with a view to the reopening of the navigation of the Mediter- 
ranean, when the winter storms were over and the warm weather 

1 Dio Cass. iii. 16. 2 Eas. V. C. iv. 47. 

8 Eus. V. C. iv. 47 ; Soz. H. E. i. 25. 

4 The Greeks call the Sunday after Ascension Day "The Sunday of the 
Holy Fathers," or of the "318 Theophori at Nic?ea." Heinichen on Eus. 
V. C. iii. 15. Smith, De Ecclesise Grsecoe hodierno Statu, p. 76. The 
Syrians celebrate it on July I ; the Armenians on Sept. 7 ; the Egyptians 
on Nov. 5. See Lecture V. 

Meeting of the Council 125 

rendered travelling easy. In this instance the time would be 
further narrowed by the desire of the Emperor to combine it 
with the 25th of July, the anniversary of his accession, with 
which, as we shall see, the formal proceedings of the Council 
were closed, though the members appear not to have dispersed 
till the 25th of August. 1 

IV. It was, then, at such a time and to such a place, with 
the feelings inspired by such a conjuncture as I have described, 
that, in the close of May or beginning of June, Nicasa was ap- 
proached by the representatives of the Christian Church from 
every part of the Eastern Empire, and from a few spots of the 
Western also. The mode of their travelling must be observed, 
not only as characteristic of the manners of the time, but as 
decisive of the authority by which they were summoned. 

Letters were addressed, doubtless, on this as on a previous 
lesser occasion in the West, to the civil authorities, enjoining 
the supplies necessary for the journey. The posting arrange- 
ments of the empire made such a convention far more easy 
than would have been the case at any period in the middle 
ages. The great lines of communication were like railroads, 
straight as arrows, from one extremity of the Empire to the 
other. From Bordeaux to Constantinople, a few years later, 
we have the record of two hundred post stations (/xovai) and 
ninety-one inns ; an inn at the interval of every half-day's 
journey. 2 Each Bishop was to have two presbyters and three 
slaves 3 as his retinue. They travelled partly in public 
carriages, 4 partly on horses, asses, and mules, provided for 
the purpose, both for riding and carrying baggage. 5 The 
precedent thus established was never dropped, and the 
summoning of a Council was always known throughout the 
Empire by the stir along the roads in every direction. At 
later Councils we hear of the indecent haste with which 
Bishops might be seen 6 galloping at full speed to reach the 
appointed place in time, the horses knocked up by their 
impatience, or at times detained, as would not unfrequently 

1 Alexander (of Byzantium ?) describes it as ending in September (Photius, 
Bib. 473) ; according to the later Greek traditions it lasted three (Phot. Bib. 
473) or six" years (ib. 66). See Beveridge's Synodicon, ii. 42. 

2 Itin. Burd. p. 548. See Dr. Newman's notes on Ath. Hist. Tracts, 
i. 50. 

3 Eus. H. E. x. 8. 

4 Eus. H. E. x. 5 : Srj/t^o-toj/ ox^a. V. C. iii. 6 : 5f]/ui.6(rios Sp6fj.cs. 

5 Theod. H. E. i. 6 : opevtrt Kal ovois Kal iip.i6vois Kal 

6 Ammian. xxi. 16. 

126 The Council of Nicasa 

happen at the end of an Eastern spring, by the flooding of 
rivers. 1 

This (varied no doubt by the arrival in vessels across the 
Ascanian Lake) must have been the general aspect of the 
gathering of the Council of Nicsea. They came, says Eusebius, 
as fast as they could run, in almost a frenzy of excitement and 
enthusiasm. 2 The actual crowd must have been enough to 
have metamorphosed the place. It was indeed a number far 
below the enormous crowds which beset the later Councils. 
At Nicasa the highest calculation, in the distorted accounts of 
later times, fixes the number at more than 2ooo. 3 This, if we 
include all the presbyters and attendants, is probably correct. 
The actual number of Bishops, variously stated in the earlier 
authorities as 2i8, 4 25o, 5 270,^ or 3oo, 7 was finally believed to 
have been 320 or 3i8, 8 and this in the Eastern Church has so 
completely been identified with the event that the Council is 
often known as that of "the 318." It is a proof of the import- 
ance of the event, that even so trivial a circumstance as the 
number should be made the groundwork of more than one 
mystical legend. In the Greek numerals it was T I H ; i. e. 
T for the cross, I H, for the sacred name 'fyo-ov?. 9 It was 10 
also supposed that their number was prefigured in the 318 
slaves of Abraham. It became the foundation of seeking 
mystical numbers for the later Councils. The greatest of 
all the Eastern Councils, in numbers and dignity, that of 
Chalcedon, prided itself on being just double that of Nicaea, 
636. The Council of Constantinople, which deposed Ignatius 
and exalted Photius in the ninth century, prided itself on 
being exactly the same number, 318. The Alexandrians, 
after two Arabian historians, 11 giving the sum total of the 
Council as 2348, represent the rest as the grand gathering 
of all the heretics of the world, Sabellians, Mariolaters, Arians, 

1 As at the Council of Ephesus. (Robertson, i. 445.) 

2 V. C. iii. 6 : old TWOS curb vv<ro"r]s edeov ol Travres ev TrpoOv/j-ta irctfrf}. 

3 2340 (Macrizi, 31) ; 2848 (Mansi, ii. p. 1073 ; Eutychius, Ann. i. 

4 Anal. Nic. 34. 6 Eus. V. C. iii. 8. 

6 Eustathius (apud Theod. i. 8), who, however, adds that he had not 
examined the matter closely. 

7 Athan. Hist. Monach. c. 66 ; Apol. c. Arian. c. 23, 25 ; De Synod. 
c. 43. 

8 Athan. ad. Afr. c. 2 ; Soc. i. 8 ; Soz. i. 17 j (320) Theod. i. 7. 

9 Ambrose, De Fide, i. 18. 10 Ibid. i. I. 
11 Macrizi, 31 ; Eutychius, Ann. i. 440. 

Meeting of the Council 127 

and that the 318 were the Orthodox and steadfast minority. 
Two still stranger stories in connection with the number will 
appear as we proceed. 1 

But it was the diversity of the persons, and the strongly 
marked characters dividing each from each, which, more than 
any mere display of numbers, constituted their peculiar interest. 
In the conventional pictures of the Council, such, for example,, 
as that which still exists at Nicaea, the figures are almost in- 
distinguishable from each other, with the exception of the 
small knot of Arians, who are represented as grouped together 
in the centre, bearing the marks of their discomfiture in their 
looks of extreme disgust, and the sign of their heresy in the 
coal-black colour of their complexions. But this was far from 
being the true aspect of the assembly as it was first seen, 
before the theological differences had been fully developed, 
and whilst the natural differences were the most prominent. 
Eusebius, himself an eye-witness, as he enumerates the various- 
characters from various countries, of various age and position, 
thus collected, compares the scene either with the diverse 
nations 2 assembled at Pentecost, or with a garland of flowers 
gathered in season, of all manner of colours, woven together as 
a peace-offering after the tranquillisation of the Empire ; 3 or 
with a mystic dance, in which every actor performs a part of 
his own, 4 to complete a sacred ceremony. There were present, 
the learned and the illiterate, courtiers and peasants, old and 
young, aged Bishops on the verge of the grave, beardless 
deacons just entering on their office ; 5 and it was an assembly 
in which the difference between age and youth was of more 
than ordinary significance; for it coincided with a marked 
transition in the history of the world. The new generation 
had been brought up in peace and quiet. They could just 
remember the joy diffused through the Christian communities by 
the edict of toleration published in their boyhood ; but they had 
themselves suffered nothing. Not so the older, and by far the 
larger part of the assembly. They had lived through the last 
and worst of the persecutions, and they now came like at 
regiment out of some frightful siege or battle, decimated and 
mutilated by the tortures or the hardships they had undergone. 
There must have been some of the aged inhabitants of Nicaea 
who remembered the death 6 of the two martyrs, Tryphon and 
Respicius, who, in the reign of Decius, had been dragged 

1 Lecture V. a V. C. iii. 7. 3 Ibid. iii. 7. 

4 Ibid. iii. 8, 9. 6 Ibid. iii. 8. 6 See Tillemont, iii. 33. 

128 The Council of Nicsea 

through the streets of the city, bleeding from their wounds, 
in the depth of winter. There must be some who retained 
from their grandfathers the recollection of that still earlier 
and more celebrated persecution in Bithynia, recorded by 
Pliny in his letters to Trajan. Most of the older members 
must have lost a friend or a brother. Many still bore the 
marks of their sufferings. Some uncovered their sides and 
backs to show the wounds inflicted by the instruments of 
torture. On others were the traces of that peculiar cruelty 
which distinguished the last persecution, the loss of a right 
eye, or the searing of the sinews of the leg, 1 to prevent 
their escape from working in the mines. 2 Both at the time 
and afterwards, it was on their character as an army of 
confessors and martyrs, 3 quite as much as on their character 
as an CEcumenical Council, that their authority reposed. 
In this respect no other Council could approach them, and, 
in the whole proceedings of the assembly, the voice of an old 
confessor was received almost as an oracle. 

V. They assembled in the first instance in one of the chief 
buildings of Nicaea, apparently for the purpose of a thanks- 
giving and a religious reunion. Whether it was an actual 
church may be questioned. Christians, no doubt, there had 
been in Bithynia for some generations. Already in the 
second century Pliny had found them in such numbers that 
the temples were deserted, and .the sacrifices neglected. But 
it would seem that on this occasion a secular building was 
fitted up as a temporary house of prayer. At least the 
traditional account of the place where their concluding 
prayers were held exactly agrees with Strabo's account of the 
ancient gymnasium of Nicsea. It was a large building, 
shaped like a basilica, with an apse at one end, planted in 
the centre of the town, and thus commanding down each 
of the four streets a view of the four gates, and therefore 
called " Mesomphalos," the "Navel" of the city. 4 Whether, 
however, this edifice actually was a church or not, its use 
as such on this occasion served as a precedent for most 
of the later Councils. From the time of the Council of 
Chalcedon, they have usually been held within the walls 
of churches. But for this, the first Council, the church, so 

1 Eus. H. E. viii. 12. 

2 Chrysostom, i. 609. 3 Ibid. i. 609. 

4 See Strabo (xii. 565) ; and Gregory the Presbyter, De Patr. Nic. 
Cone., as quoted in Mansi, ii. 727. 

Meeting of the Council 129 

far as it was a church, was only used at the beginning and 
the end. 

After these thanksgivings were over, the members of the 
assembly must have been collected according to the divisions 
which shall now be described. 

i. The groupe which, above the rest, attracts our attention, 
is the deputation from the Church of Egypt. Shrill above 
all other voices, vehement above all other disputants, 
" brandishing their arguments," as it was described by one 
who knew them well, 1 "like spears, against those who 
sate under the same roof, and ate off the same table as 
themselves," were the combatants from Alexandria, who 
had brought to its present pass the question which the 
Council was called to decide. Foremost in that groupe in 
dignity, though not in importance or in energy, was the 
aged Alexander, whose imprudent sermon had provoked the 
quarrel, and whose subsequent vacillation had encouraged it. 
He was the Bishop, not indeed of the first, but of the most 
learned, see of Christendom. He was known by a title 
which he alone officially bore in that assembly. He was 
"the Pope." "The Pope of Rome" was a phrase which 
had not yet emerged in history. But "Pope of Alexandria" 
was a well-known dignity. Papa, that strange and uni- 
versal mixture of familiar endearment and of reverential awe, 
extended in a general sense to all Greek Presbyters and all 
Latin Bishops, was the special address which, long before the 
names of patriarch or of archbishop, was given to the head of 
the Alexandrian Church. 2 

In the Patriarchal Treasury at Moscow is a very ancient 

1 Theod. i. 6. 

2 This peculiar Alexandrian application of a name, in itself expressing 
simple affection, is thus explained : Down to Heraclas (A.D. 230), the 
Bishop of Alexandria, being the sole Egyptian bishop, was called "Abba" 
(father), and his clergy "Elders." From his time more bishops were 
created, who then received the name of " abba," and consequently the name 
of "Papa" (ab-aba, pater patrum = grandfather) was appropriated to the 
Primate. The Roman account (inconsistent with facts) is that the name 
was first -given to Cyril, as representing the Bishop of Rome in the 
Council of Ephesus (Suicer, in voce). The name was fixed to the Bishop 
of Rome in the 7th century. It has been fantastically explained as : i. 
Poppcea, from the short life of each pope. 2. Pa, for Pater. 3. Pap, suck. 
4. Pap, breast. 5. Pa (Paul) Pe (Peter). 6. ircnra? ! (admiration). 7. 
Papos, "keeper" (Oscan). 8. Pappas, chief slave. 9. Pa(\er) Pa(tnss,). 
10. Pa, sound of a father's kiss. See Abraham Echellensis, De Origine 
Nom. Papse, 60. 


130 The Council of Nicaea 

scarf, or " omophorion," said to have been given by the 
Bishop of Nicaea in the seventeenth century to the Czar 
Alexis, and to have been left to the Church of Nicsea by 
Alexander of Alexandria. It is white, and is rudely worked 
with a representation of the Ascension ; possibly in allusion 
to the first Sunday of their meeting. This relic, true or 
false, is the nearest approach we can now make to the bodily 
presence of the old theologian. The shadow of death is 
already upon him ; in a few months he will be beyond the 
reach of controversy. 

But close 1 beside the Pope Alexander is a small insig- 
nificant 2 young man, of hardly twenty-five years of age, of 
lively manners 3 and speech, and of bright, serene coun- 
tenance. Though he is but the Deacon, the chief Deacon, 4 
or Archdeacon, of Alexander, he has closely riveted the 
attention of the assembly by the vehemence of his argu- 
ments. He is already taking the words out of the Bishop's 
mouth, and briefly acting in reality the part he had before, 
as a child, 5 acted in name, and that, in a few months, he 
will be called to act both in name and in reality. In 
some of the conventional pictures of the Council his humble 
rank as a Deacon does not allow of his appearance. But his 
activity and prominence 6 behind the scenes made enemies 
for him there, who will never leave him through life. Any 
one who has read his passionate invectives afterwards may 
form some notion of what he was when in the thick of his 
youthful battles. That small insignificant Deacon is the great 

Next after the Pope and Deacon of Alexandria, we must 
turn to one of its most important Presbyters the parish 
priest of its principal church, which bore the name of 
Baucalis, and marked the first beginnings of what we 
should call a parochial system. 7 In appearance he is the 

1 Gelas. ii. 7 ; Theod. i. 26 ; Soc. i. 8. 8 Julian, Ep. 51. 

3 Greg. Naz. Or. 219. 4 See Lecture VII. 

5 See Lecture VI. 6 Ath. Apol. c. Ar. 6 ; Soz. i. 17. 

7 It was the earliest church in Alexandria. It contained the tomb of 
S. Mark, and in it took place the election of the patriarch. It stood near 
the sea shore, on a spot which derived its name (Boucalia) from the 
pasturage of cattle. (Neale's Hist, of the Alex. Church, i. 7, 9.) It stood 
on the shores of the present harbour. The mosque which was built from 
its remains, and which bore the name of " the Thousand Pillars," was 
pulled down by the late Viceroy of Egypt. I saw the last traces of it 
in 1862. 

Meeting of the Council 131 

very opposite of Athanasius. He is sixty years of age, very 
tall and thin, and apparently unable to support his stature; 
he has an odd way of contorting and twisting himself, 
which his enemies compare to the wrigglings of a snake. 1 
He would be handsome but for the emaciation and deadly 
pallor of his face, and a downcast look, imparted by a weak- 
ness of eyesight. At times his veins throb and swell, and 
his limbs tremble, as if suffering from some violent internal 
complaint, the same, perhaps, that will terminate one day 
in his sudden and dreadful death. There is a wild look 
about him, which at first sight is startling. His dress and 
demeanour are these of a rigid ascetic. He wears a long 
coat with short sleeves, 2 and a scarf of only half size, such 
as was the mark of an austere life ; and his hair hangs in a 
tangled mass over his head. He is usually silent, but at 
times breaks out into fierce excitement, such as will give the 
impression of madness. Yet, with all this, there is a sweet- 
ness in his voice, and a winning, earnest manner, which 
fascinates those who come across him. Amongst the religi- 
ous ladies of Alexandria he is said to have had from the 
first a following of not less than seven hundred. This 
strange, captivating, moon-struck giant is the heretic Arius, 
or, as his adversaries called him, the madman of Ares, or 
Mars. 3 Close beside him was a groupe of his countrymen, 
of whom we know little, except their fidelity to him, through 
good report and evil : Saras, like himself a presbyter, from 
the Libyan province ; Euzoius, a deacon of Egypt ; Achillas, 
a reader ; 4 Theonas, Bishop of Marmarica in the Cyrenaica ; 
and Secundus, Bishop of Ptolemais, in the Delta. 5 

These were the most remarkable deputies from the Church 
of Alexandria. But from the interior of Egypt came characters 
of quite another stamp ; not Greeks, nor Grecised Egyptians, 
but genuine Copts, 6 speaking the Greek language not at all, 
or with great difficulty ; living half or the whole of their lives in 
the desert ; their very names taken from the heathen gods of the 

1 This description is put together from the two different, but not irre- 
concilable, accounts given in Epiphanius (Ixix. 3), and in the letter 
ascribed to Constantine in Gelasius, iii. I. (Mansi, ii. 930.) 

2 The monks wore no sleeves, to indicate that their hands were not to 
be employed in injury. Soz. H. E. iii. 14. 

3 'Api/j.dvf]5, in later Greek, was a phrase for war frenzy. 

4 For these three names see Jerome Adv. Lucif. ii. 192. 
6 Theod. i. 7. 

6 Antony could not speak Greek. Soz. i. 13. 

132 The Council of Nicaea 

times of the ancient Pharaohs. One was Potammon, Bishop of 
Heracleopolis, far up the Nile ; the other, Paphnutius, Bishop 
of the Upper Thebaid. Both are famous for the austerity of 
their lives. Potamrnon 1 (that is, "dedicated to Ammon") had 
himself visited the hermit Antony; Paphnutius (that is, 
" dedicated to his God ") had been brought up in a hermitage. 2 
Both, too, had suffered in the persecutions. Each presented 
the frightful spectacle of the right eye dug out with the sword, 
and the empty socket seared with a red-hot iron. Paphnutius, 
besides, came limping on one leg, his left having been ham- 
strung. 3 

2. Next in importance must be reckoned the Bishops of 
Syria and of the interior of Asia; or, as they are sometimes 
called in the later Councils, the Eastern Bishops, as distin- 
guished from the Church of Egypt. Then, as afterwards, there 
was rivalry between those branches of Oriental Christendom ; 
each, from long neighbourhood, knowing each, yet each tending 
in an opposite direction, till, after the Council of Chalcedon, a 
community of heresy drew them together again. Here, as in 
Egypt, we find two classes of representatives scholars from 
the more civilised cities of Syria; wild ascetics from the 
remoter East. The first in dignity was the orthodox Eustathius, 
who either was, or was on the point of being made, 4 Bishop of 
the capital of Syria, the metropolis of the Eastern Church, 
Antioch, then called " the city of God." He had suffered in 
heathen persecutions, and was destined to suffer in Christian 
persecutions also. 5 But he was chiefly known for his learn- 
ing and eloquence, which was distinguished by an antique 
simplicity of style. One work alone has come down to us, on 
the " Witch of Endor." 

Next in rank, and far more illustrious, was his chief suf- 
fragan, the metropolitan of Palestine, the Bishop of Csesarea, 
Eusebius. We honour him as the father of ecclesiastical 
history as the chief depositary of the traditions which con- 
nect the fourth with the first century. But in the Bishops at 
Nicsea his presence awakened feelings of a very different kind. 

1 Three of that name were at Sardica. (Ath. Apol. c. Ar. 50.) 

2 eV affK-rfT-npiy. The same word that in the Russian Church is abridged 
into sheet. See Lecture XI. 

3 Rufin. i. 4 : " Sinistro poplite succiso." See also Soc. i. II. 

4 The very intricate question of the date of Eustathius's appointment to 
Antioch is well discussed in Tillemont, vii. 646. It seems most probable 
that he was appointed just at this crisis. 

5 Soz. ii. 19. 

Meeting of the Council 133 

He alone of the Eastern Prelates could tell what was in the 
mind of the Emperor; he was the clerk of the Imperial 
closet; he was the interpreter, the chaplain, the confessor of 
Constantine. And yet he was on the wrong side. Two 
especially, we may be sure, of the Egyptian Church were on 
the watch for any slip that he might make. Athanasius (what- 
ever may have been the opinions of later times respecting the 
doctrines of Eusebius) was convinced that he was at heart an 
Arian. 1 Potammon of the one eye had known him formerly 
in the days of persecution, and was ready with that most fatal 
taunt, which, on a later occasion, he threw out against him, 
that, whilst he had thus suffered for the cause of Christ, 
Eusebius 2 had escaped by sacrificing to an idol. 

If Eusebius was suspected of Arianism, he was supported by 
most of his suffragan bishops in Palestine, of whom Paulinus 
of Tyre, 3 and Patrophilus of Bethshan (Scythopolis), were the 
most remarkable. One, however, a champion of Orthodoxy, 
was distinguished, not in himself, but for the see which he 
occupied once the highest in Christendom, in a few years 
about to claim something of its former grandeur, but at the 
time of the Council known only as a second-rate Syro-Roman 
city Macarius, Bishop of ^Elia Capitolina, that is, "Jerusalem." 

From Neocaesarea, a border fortress on the Euphrates, 4 came 
its confessor Bishop, Paul, who like Paphnutius and Potammon, 
had suffered in the persecutions, but, more recently, under 
Licinius. His hands were paralysed by the scorching of the 
muscles of all the fingers with red-hot iron. Along with him 
were the Orthodox representatives of four famous Churches, 
who, according to the Armenian tradition, travelled in company. 5 
Their leader was the marvel, " the Moses," as he was termed, 
of Mesopotamia, James, or Jacob, Bishop of Nisibis. 6 He had 
lived for years as a hermit on the mountains ; in the forests 
during the summer, in caverns during the winter : browsing on 
roots and leaves like a wild beast, and like a wild beast clothed 
in a rough goat-hair cloak. This dress and manner of life, 
even after he became bishop, he never laid aside; and the 

1 De Syn. c. 17. 2 Epiph. cxviii. 7 ; Ath. Apol. 8. 

8 Theod. i. 4, 7. 4 Ibid. i. 6. 

6 Moses Choren. ii. 87. To these must be added Maruthas, Bishop of 
Tagrit, namesake of the future historian of the Council. (Assem. Bibl. 
Or. i. 195.) See p. 98. 

6 Theod. Philoth. iii. 11-14. ^ ris aptffrevs ol irpdpaxos aird<rr)s 
<t>d\ayyos. See Biblioth. Patrum, v. p. clviii. 

134 The Council of Nicaea 

mysterious awe which his presence inspired was increased by 
the stories of miraculous power, which, we are told, he 
exercised in a manner as humane and playful as it was 
grotesque ; as when he turned the washerwoman's hair white, 
detected the impostor who pretended to be dead, and raised an 
army of gnats against the Persians. His fame as a theologian 
rests on disputed writings. 1 

:The second was Ait-allaha ("the brought of God," like the 
Greek " Theophorus "), who had just occupied the see of 
Edessa, and finished the building of the cemetery of his 
cathedral. 2 

The third was Aristaces, said to be the cousin of Jacob of 
Nisibis and son of Gregory the Illuminator, founder of the 
Armenian Church. 3 He represented both his father the 
Bishop, and Tiridates the King, of Armenia ; the Bishop and 
King having received a special invitation from Constantine, 4 
and sent their written professions of faith by the hands of 

The fourth came from beyond the frontier, the sole 
representative of the more distant East. " John the Persian," 
who added to his name the more sounding title, here 
appearing for the first time, but revived in our own days as the 
designation of our own Bishops of Calcutta, "Metropolitan 
of India." 6 

A curious tradition related that this band, including eleven 
other obscure names from the remote East, were the only 
members of the Nicene Council who had not sustained some 
bodily mutilation or injury. 6 

3. As this little band advanced westward, they encountered 
a remarkable personage, who stands at the head of the next 
groupe which we meet the Prelates of Asia Minor and Greece. 
This was Leontius of Cresarea in Cappadocia. From his 

1 Theod. Philoth. iii. 1108-1116 ; Bibl. Patr. v. iii.-clii. 

2 Chronicon Edess. ap. Assemani Biblioth. Or. i. 394. His name is 
written Ettilaus, ALtholaus, j&tolus, in the Nicene subscriptions, and 
Authalius in Moses Choren. ii. 87. Rabalas, Chronicle of Amrou, 
Asseman. iii. 588. 

3 See Le Quien, Oriens Christ, ii. 1251 ; Bibl. Patr. v. cliii. 

4 Moses Choren. ii. 86. 

6 Eus. V.C. iii. 7 : f/^rj 5e Kctl Hfpffrjs eiriffKOTros ffvv6$<p irapriv. In Gelas. 
Cyz. called John. In the Coptic version (Spicil. Solesm. 533) he is made 
the Bishop of Persis, a city in Mesopotamia. Has his name, thus em- 
phatically stated, any connection with Presler John? 

6 Acta SS. Jan. 13, 781. 

Meeting of the Council 135 

hands, it was said, Gregory of Armenia had received ordination, 
and from his successors in the see of Caesarea had desired that 
every succeeding Bishop of Armenia should receive ordination 
likewise. 1 For this reason, it may be, Aristaces and his 
company sought him out. They found Leontius already on 
his journey, and they overtook him at a critical moment. 2 He 
was on the point of baptising another Gregory, father of a 
much more celebrated Gregory, the future Bishop of Nazianzum. 
A light, it was believed, shone from the water, which was only 
discerned by the sacred travellers. 

Leontius was claimed by the Arians, but still more decidedly 
by the Orthodox. 3 Others, of the same side, are usually 
named as from the same region, amongst them Hypatius of 
Gangra, whose end we shall witness at the close of these events, 
and Hermogenes the deacon, afterwards Bishop of Csesarea, 
who acted as secretary of the Council. 

Eusebius of Nicomedia, afterwards of Constantinople, The- 
ognis of Nicsea, 4 Maris of Chalcedon, and Menophantus of 
Ephesus, were amongst the most resolute defenders of Arius. 
It is curious to reflect that they represent the four sees of the 
four Orthodox Councils of the Church. The three last named 
soon vanish away from history. But Eusebius of Nicomedia, 
friend, namesake, perhaps even brother of the Bishop of 
Csesarea, was a personage of high importance both then and 
afterwards. As Athanasius was called "the great" by the 
Orthodox, so was Eusebius by the Arians. 5 Even miracles 
were ascribed to him. 6 Originally Bishop of Beyruth (Bery- 
tus), he had been translated 7 to the see of Nicomedia, then 
the capital of the Eastern Empire. He had been a favourite 
of the Emperor's rival Licinius, 8 and had thus become inti- 
mate with Constantia, the Emperor's sister, the wife, now the 
widow, of Licinius. Through her and through his own dis- 
tant relationship with the Imperial family, he kept a hold on 
the court which he never lost, even to the moment when he 
stood by the dying bed of the Emperor, years afterwards, and 
received him into the Church. We must not be too hard on 

1 -Moses Choren. ii. 87. 

2 Greg. Naz. Or. xviii. c. 12, 13. 

8 Ath. ad Episc. JEg. c. 8 ; Philostorgius, i. 9. 

4 Theod. i. II. He says : Qe6yvios Ni/cams OUTTJS tiriffxoiros. 

6 Philostorg. Fragm. i. 9. 

6 See Neale's Alexandrian Church, i. 123. 

7 Theod. i. 19. 

8 Athan. Apol. c. Arian. 6 ; Ammian. Marcell. xxii. 9, 4. 


The Council of Nicaea 

the Christianity of Eusebius, if we wish to vindicate the 
baptism of Constantine. 1 

Not far from the great prelate of the capital of the East, 
would be the representative of what was now a small Greek 
town, but in five years from that time would supersede 
altogether the glories of Nicomedia. Metrophanes, 2 Bishop 
of Byzantium, was detained by old age and sickness, but 
Alexander, his presbyter, himself seventy years of age, was 
there with a little secretary of the name of Paul, not more 
than twelve years old, one of the readers and collectors of 
the Byzantine Church. 8 Alexander had already corresponded 
with his namesake of Alexandria on the Arian controversy, 4 
and was apparently attached firmly to the Orthodox side. 

Besides their more regular champions, the Orthodox party 
of Greece and Asia Minor had a few very eccentric allies. 
One was Acesius, the Novatian, "the Puritan," summoned by 
Constantine from Byzantium with Alexander, from the deep 
respect entertained by the Emperor for his ascetic character. 
He was attended by a boy, Auxanon, who lived to a great age 
afterwards as a presbyter in the same sect. 6 This child was 
then living with a hermit, Eutychianus, on the heights of the 
neighbouring mountain of the Bithynian Olympus, and he 
descended from these solitudes to attend upon Acesius. From 
him we have obtained some of the most curious details of the 

Marcellus, Bishop of Ancyra, was, amongst the Bishops, the 
fiercest opponent of Arius, and when the active Deacon of 
Alexandria was not present, seems to have borne the brunt of 
the arguments. 6 Yet, if we may judge from his subsequent 
history, Athanasius could never have been quite at ease in 
leaving the cause in his hands. He was one of those awkward 
theologians, who never could attack Arianism without falling 
into Sabellianism ; and in later life he was twice deposed from 
his see for heresy, once excommunicated by Athanasius him- 
self; and in the present form of the Nicene creed one clause 
(that which asserts that " the kingdom of Christ shall have no 
end ") is said to have been expressly aimed at his exaggerated 
language. 7 

And now come two, who in the common pictures of the 

1 See Lecture VI. 2 Photius, Biblioth. 471. 

3 Ibid. 471. 4 Neale, i. 130. 

5 Soc. i. 13. 6 Ath. Apol. c. Ar. 23, 32. 
7 Ibid, de Syn. 24, 26. 

Meeting of the Council 137 

Council always appear together, of whom the one probably 
left the deepest impression on his contemporaries, and the 
other, if he were present at all, on the subsequent traditions of 
the Council. From the island of Cyprus there arrived the 
simple shepherd Spyridion, a shepherd both before and after 
his elevation to the episcopate. Strange stories were told by 
his fellow-islanders to the historian Socrates of the thieves 
who were miraculously caught in attempting to steal his sheep, 
and of Spyridion's good-humoured reply when he found them 
in the morning, and gave them a ram that they might not have 
sat up all night for nothing. Another tale, exactly similar to 
the fantastic Mussulman legends which hang about the sacred 
places of Jerusalem, told how he had gained an answer from 
his dead daughter Irene to tell where a certain deposit was 
hidden. 1 Two less marvellous but more instructive stories 
bring out the simplicity of his character. He rebuked a 
celebrated preacher at Cyprus for altering in a quotation from 
the Gospels the homely word for " bed " into " couch." 
" What ! are you better than He who said ' bed,' 2 that you 
are ashamed to use His words ? " On occasion of a wayworn 
traveller coming to him in Lent, finding no other food in the 
house, he presented him with salted pork; and when the 
stranger declined, saying that he could not as a Christian 
break his fast "So much the less reason,' 7 he said, "have 
you for scruple ; to the pure, all things are pure." 3 

A characteristic legend attaches to the account of his journey 
to the Council. It was his usual practice to travel on foot. 
But on this occasion the length of the journey, as well as the 
dignity of his office, induced him to ride, in company with his 
deacon, on two mules, a white and a chestnut. One night, on 
his arrival at a caravanserai where a cavalcade of Orthodox 
bishops were already assembled, the mules were turned out to 
pasture, whilst he retired to his devotions. The bishops 
had conceived an alarm lest the cause of Orthodoxy should 
suffer in the Council by the ignorance or awkwardness of 
the Shepherd of Cyprus when opposed to the subtleties of the 
Alexandrian heretic. Accordingly, taking advantage of this 
encounter, they determined to throw a decisive impediment in 
his way. They cut off the heads of his two mules, and then, 
as is the custom in Oriental travelling, started on their journey 

1 Ruf. i. 5 ; compare " Sinai and Palestine," p. 179. 

2 Kpd&&a.TOv altered into ffKi^irovs. Soz. i. 1 1. 
8 See Tillemont, vi. 688-696. 

F 2 


The Council of Nicaea 

before sunrise. Spyridion also rose, but was met by his 
terrified deacon, announcing the unexpected disaster. On 
arriving at the spot, the saint bade the deacon attach the heads 
to the dead bodies. He did so, and, at a sign from the 
Bishop, the two mules with their restored heads shook them- 
selves as if from a deep sleep, and started to their feet. 
Spyridion and the deacon mounted, and soon overtook the 
travellers. As the day broke, the prelates and the deacon 
were alike astonished at seeing that he, performing the 
annexation in the dark and in haste, had fixed the heads on 
the wrong shoulders; so that the white mule had now a 
chestnut head, and the chestnut mule had the head of its 
white companion. Thus the miracle was doubly attested, 
the bishops doubly discomfited, and the simplicity of Spyridion 
doubly exemplified. 1 

Many more stones might be told of him, but (to use the 
words of an ancient writer who has related some of them) 
"from the claws you can make out the lion." 2 Of all the 
Nicene fathers, it may yet be said that in a certain curious 
sense he is the only one who has survived the decay of time. 
After resting for many years in his native Cyprus, his body 
was transferred to Constantinople, where it remained till a 
short time before the fall of the Empire. It was thence 
conveyed to Corfu, where it 3 is still preserved. Hence, by 
a strange resuscitation of fame, he has become the patron 
saint, one might almost say the Divinity, of the Ionian 
islands. Twice a year in solemn procession he is carried 
round the streets of Corfu. Hundreds of Corfiotes bear his 
name, now abridged into the familiar diminutive of "Spiro." 
The superstitious veneration entertained for the old saint is 
a constant source of quarrel between the English residents 
and the native lonians. But the historian may be pardoned 
for gazing with a momentary interest on the dead hands, 
now black and withered, that subscribed the Creed of 

Still more famous (and still more apocryphal, at least in 

1 Another version of this legend (which appeared in the 1st edition of 
this work) ascribes the decapitation to the A nans. But the more usual 
version is that here given. I heard it both in Mount Athos and at Corfu, 
and it is told at length in an Italian MS. Life of S. Spyridion, communi- 
cated to me by the kindness of a friend in Corfu. 

2 Photius, Biblioth. 471. 

3 It was brought by the great family of the Bulgaris, who are said to be 
descendants of his sister. 

Meeting of the Council 139 

his attendance at Nicaea), is Nicolas, Bishop of Myra. Not 
mentioned by a single ancient historian, he yet figures in the 
traditional pictures of the Council as the foremost figure of 
all. Type as he is of universal benevolence to sailors, to 
thieves, to the victims of thieves, to children, known by 
his broad red face, and flowing white hair, the traditions 
of the East always represent him as standing in the midst of 
the assembly, and suddenly roused by righteous indignation to 
assail the heretic Arius with a tremendous box on the ear. 1 

4. One more groupe of deputies closes the arrivals. The 
Nicene Council was, as I have often said, a Council of the 
Eastern Church; and Eastern seemingly were at least 310 
of the 318 Bishops. But the West was not entirely unre- 
presented. Nicasius from France, Marcus from Calabria, 
Capito from Sicily, Eustorgius from Milan (where a vener- 
able church is still dedicated to his memory), Domnus of 
Stridon in Pannonia, were the less conspicuous deputies of 
the Western provinces. 

But there were five men whose presence must have been 
full of interest to their Eastern brethren. Corresponding to 
John the Persian from the extreme East, was Theophilus 
the Goth from the extreme North. His light complexion 
doubtless made a marked contrast with the tawny hue and 
dark hair of almost all the rest. They rejoiced to think 
that they had a genuine Scythian amongst them. 2 From all 
future generations of his Teutonic countrymen he may claim 
attention, as the predecessor and teacher of Ulphilas, 3 the 
great missionary of the Gothic nation. 4 

Out of the province of Northern Africa, the earliest cradle 
of the Latin Church, came Caecilian, Bishop of Carthage. A 
few years ago he had himself been convened before the two 
Western Councils of the Lateran and of Aries, and had there 
been acquitted of the charges brought against him by the 

If any of the distant Orientals had hoped to catch a sight 
of the Bishop of the " Imperial City," they were doomed to 
disappointment. Doubtless, had he been there, his position 
as prelate of the capital would have been, if not first, at 
least among the first. But Sylvester 5 was now far advanced 
in years; and in his place came the two presbyters, who, 

1 See Tillemont, vi. 688. Comp. Lecture IV. 

2 Eus. V. C. iii. 7. 8 Soc. ii. 41. 4 See Lecture IX. 
6 Sozomen (1. 17), by mistake, says "Julius." 

140 The Council of Nicaea 

according to the arrangement laid down by the Emperor, 
would have accompanied him had he been able to make the 
journey. In this simple deputation later writers have seen 
(and perhaps by a gradual process the connection might be 
traced) the first germ of legati a latere. But it must have 
been a very far-seeing eye which in Victor and Vincentius, 
the two unknown elders, representing their sick old Bishop, 
could have detected the predecessors of Pandulf or of Wolsey. 
With them, however, was a man who, though not long for- 
gotten, was then an object of deeper interest to Christendom 
than any Bishop of Rome could at that time have been. It 
was the world-renowned Spaniard, as he is called by Eusebius ; 
the magician from Spain, 1 as he is called by Zosimus ; Hosius, 
Bishop of Cordova. He was the representative of the western- 
most of European Churches ; but, as Eusebius of Cassarea 
was the chief counsellor of the Emperor in the Greek Church, 
so was Hosius in the Latin Church, as we shall see hereafter 
in the darkest and most mysterious crisis of Constantine's 
life. With some there present he was personally- acquainted. 
The Alexandrian deputies had already seen him, when he had 
come to their city charged with the Emperor's pacificatory 
letter to Alexander and Arius. He and Eusebius must have 
been regarded as the most powerful persons in the assembly. 
He had still thirty years of life to run, yet he was already 
venerable with years and sufferings and honours. He had 
been a confessor in the persecutions of Maximin; he was 
received, Athanasius tells us, with profound reverence, as 
that "Abrahamic old man, well called Hosius, 2 the 'Holy;" 3 
and probably no one then present would have thought of 
inquiring whether any portion of his authority was derived 
from the absent Bishop of Rome. This claim for him has 
been set up in later times; and it is possible that, as he was 
certainly charged with the secrets of the Roman Emperor, 
so he may have been with those of the Roman Bishop. But 
such was not the impression produced on the contemporary 
witnesses of the scene; his own high character, his intimacy 
with Constantine, and his theological learning, were sufficient 
of themselves to have secured for him the position which he 
occupied there, as in all the other Councils of the age. 

VI. It was probably by degrees that these different arrivals 
took place, and the lapse of two or three weeks must be 

1 See Lecture VI. 

2 Apol. Ap. Ar. 44 ; De Fuga, 5 ; Ad. Mon. 42-45. 

Meeting of the Council 141 

supposed, for the preparatory arrangements, before the Council 
was formally opened. This interval was occupied by eager 
discussions on the questions likely to be debated. The first 
assemblage had been, as we have seen, within the walls of a 
public building. But the other preliminary meetings were 
held, as was natural, in the streets or colonnades in the open 
air. The novelty of the occasion had collected many strangers 
to the spot. Laymen, philosophers, heathen as well as Chris- 
tian, might be seen joining in the arguments on either side, 1 
orthodox as well as heretical. There were also discussions 
amongst the Orthodox themselves as to the principle on which 
the debates should be conducted. The enumeration of the 
characters just given shows that there were two very different 
elements in the assembly, such indeed as will always constitute 
the main difficulty in making any general statements of theology 
which shall be satisfactory at once to the few and to the many. 
A large number, perhaps the majority, consisted of rough, 
simple, almost illiterate men, like Spyridion the shepherd, 
Potammon the hermit, Acesius the puritan, who held their 
faith earnestly and sincerely, but without much conscious 
knowledge of the grounds on which they maintained it, in- 
capable of arguing themselves, or of entering into the argu- 
ments of their opponents. These men, when suddenly brought 
into collision with the acutest and most learned disputants of 
the age, naturally took up the position that the safest course 
was to hold by what had been handed down, without any 
further inquiry or explanation. A story somewhat variously 
told is related of an encounter of one of these simple characters 
with the more philosophical combatants, which, in whatever 
way it be taken, well illustrates the mixed character of the 
Council, and the choice of courses open before it. As Socrates 
describes the incident, the disputes were running so high, from 
the mere pleasure of argument, that there seemed likely to be 
no end to the controversy ; when suddenly a simple-minded 
layman, who by his sightless eye, or limping leg, bore witness 
of his zeal for the Christian faith, stepped amongst them, and 
abruptly- said : " Christ and the Apostles left us, not a system 
of logic, nor a vain deceit, but a naked truth, to be guarded 
by faith and good works." " There has," says Bishop Kaye 2 

1 Soc. i. 8 : fKdTfpcp juepet crvvtiyopzlv irpodvfji.ovp.fvoi. This disproves the 
representation that the philosophers were all on the Arian side, as in later 
historians and in the Athenian pictures. 

2 " Some Account of the Council of Nioea," p. 39. 

142 The Council of Nicaea 

in recording the story, " been hardly any age of the Church in 
which its members have not required to be reminded of this 
lesson." On the present occasion the bystanders, at least for 
the moment, were struck by its happy application; the dis- 
putants, after hearing this plain word of truth, took their 
differences more good-humouredly, and the hubbub of con- 
troversy subsided. 

Another version of the same story, or another story of the 
same kind, with a somewhat different moral, is told by Rufinus 
and Sozomen, 1 and amplified by later writers. The disputants, 
or rather disputant (for one is specially selected), is now not 
a Christian theologian, but a heathen philosopher, to whom, 
in later writings, is given the suspicious name of Eulogius, 2 
" Fairspeech." He was a perfect master of argument; the 
moment that he seemed to be caught by one of his opponents, 
he slipped out of their hands like an eel or a snake. 3 His 
opponent is, in this story, not a layman, but an aged bishop 
or priest (and here the later account identifies him with the 
shepherd Spyridion). Unable to bear any longer the taunts 
with which the philosopher assailed a group of Christians, 
amongst whom he was standing, he came forth to refute him. 
His uncouth appearance, rendered more hideous by the muti- 
lations he had undergone in the persecutions, provoked a roar 
of laughter from, his opponents, whilst his friends were not a 
little uneasy at seeing their cause intrusted to so unskilled a 
champion. But he felt himself strong in his own simplicity. 
" In the name of Jesus Christ," he called out to his antagonist, 
" hear me, philosopher. There is one God, maker of heaven 
and earth, and of all things visible and invisible : who made 
all things by the power of His Word, and by the holiness of 
His Holy Spirit. This Word, by which name we call the Son 
of God, took compassion on men for their wandering astray, 
and for their savage condition, and chose to be born of a 
woman, and to converse with men, and to die for them, and 
He shall come again to judge every one for the things done in 
life. These things we believe without curious inquiry. Cease 
therefore the vain labour of seeking proofs for or against what 
is established by faith, and the manner in which these things 
may be or may not be ; but, if thou believest, answer at once 
to me as I put my questions to you." 

The philosopher was struck dumb by this new mode of 

1 Ruf. i. 3 ; Soz. i. 18. 2 Gelasius, iii. 13. 

8 Ruf. i. 3 : " Velut anguis lubricus." 

Meeting of the Council 143 

argument. He could only reply that he assented. "Then," 
answered the old man, " if thou believest this, rise and follow me 
to the Lord's house, 1 and receive the sign of this faith." The 
philosopher turned round to his disciples, or to those who had 
been gathered round him by curiosity. " Hear," he said, " my 
learned friends. So long as it was a matter of words, I opposed 
words to words, and whatever was spoken I overthrew by my 
skill in speaking ; but when, in the place of words, power came 
out of the speaker's lips, words could no longer resist power, 
man could no longer resist. If any of you feel as I have felt, 
let him believe in Christ, and let him follow this old man in 
whom God has spoken." Exaggerated or not, 2 this story is 
a proof of the magnetic power of earnestness and simplicity 
over argument and speculation. 

The tradition which identified the simple disputant with 
Spyridion grew in later times into the form which it bears in 
all the pictures of the Council, and which is commemorated 
in the services of the Greek Church. Aware of his incapacity 
of argument, he took a brick and said, " You deny that Three 
can be One. Look at this : it is one, and yet it is composed 
of the three elements of fire, earth, and water." As he spoke, 
the brick resolved itself into its component parts : the fire flew 
upward, the clay remained in Spyridion's hand, and the water 
fell to the ground. The philosopher, or (according to some 
accounts) Arius himself, was so confounded, as to declare 
himself converted on the spot. 3 

These tales represent probably the feeling of a large portion 
of the Council the sound, unprofessional, untheological, lay 
element which lay at the basis of all their weakness and their 
strength. The historian Socrates is very anxious to prove that 
the assembly was not entirely composed of men of this kind, 
and he points triumphantly to the presence of such men as 
Eusebius of Caesarea. No proof was necessary. The sub- 
sequent history of the Council itself is a sufficient indication 

1 Ruf. i. 3 : " Ad dominicum." This shows that they were outside the 
building : see p. 130. 

2 See-a similar story of Alexander of Byzantium, who was present at the 
Council (Soz. i. 17), and of S. Francis Xavier (Grant's Bampton Lectures, 
p. 272). 

3 In the MS. Italian Life of S. Spyridion before quoted, the speech with 
the philosopher is lengthened into a history of the Old and New Dispensa- 
tions, and the miracle of the brick is reported as taking place afterwards 
with Arius. But in the pictures of the Council, in Mount Athos and at 
Nicsea, it is as I have represented. 

144 The Council of Nicaea 

that, however small a minority might be the dialecticians and 
theologians, yet they constituted the life and movement of the 
whole. Socrates dwells with evident pleasure l on the circum- 
stance that the ultimate decisions were only made after long 
inquiry, and that everything was stirred to the bottom. 
Gelasius, in the next century, so far from being satisfied with 
the summary treatment of the disputant by the old confessor, 
introduces a second philosopher, of the name of Phaedo, who 
has a pitched battle with five Bishops, 2 Hosius included, whose 
arguments are drawn out at full length. This, though fabulous 
in its details, is doubtless true in its substance. The frenzy of 
argument was too vehement to be restrained. Heretics and 
Orthodox alike felt themselves compelled to advance. 

We may wish, with Bishop Jeremy Taylor and Bishop Kaye, 
that it had been otherwise. But there is a point of view from 
which we may fully sympathise with the course that was taken. 
All the elements which go to make up the interest of theology 
were involved: love of free inquiry, desire of precision in 
philosophical statements, research into Christian antiquity, 
comparison of the texts of Scripture one with another. Tradi- 
tional and episcopal authority was regarded as insufficient for 
the establishment of the faith. The well-known clause of the 
Twenty-first Article does but express the principle of the 
Nicene fathers themselves : " Things ordained by them as 
necessary for salvation have neither strength nor authority 
unless it may be declared that they are taken out of Holy 
Scripture." The battle was fought and won by quotations, 
not from tradition, but from the Old and New Testament. 
The overruling sentiment was, that even ancient opinions were 
not to be received without sifting and inquiry. 3 The chief 
combatant and champion of the faith was not the Bishop of 
Antioch or of Rome, nor the Pope of Alexandria, but the 
Deacon Athanasius. The eager discussions of Nicsea present 
the first grand precedent for the duty of private judgment, 
and the free, unrestrained exercise of Biblical and historical 
criticism. 4 

1 L 9-. 

2 Hosius, Leontius, Eusebius, Macarius, and Eupsychius (of Tyana). 
(Gelas. iii. 14-23.) 

3 Soz. i. 17, 25. 

4 It has been often maintained that the decisions of the Council were 
based on authority, not on argument. It is certain that some of the 
reasonings of Athanasius rest on the general reception of the Nicene 
doctrines, rather than on their intrinsic truth. (See the quotations and 

Meeting of the Council 145 

And now, on the morrow of the discussion between the 
peasant and the theologians, 1 the day arrived when the Council 
was to begin its work in earnest, the day when they should 
at last see the great man at whose bidding they were met 
together, and to whose arrival many looked forward as the 
chief event of the assembly. 2 The Emperor was on his way to 
Nicaea, and would be there in a few hours to open the Council 
in person. 

inferences in Keble's Sermons, pp. 392-394.) But the whole tenour of the 
narrative in Eusebius, Socrates, and Sozomen points to the conclusion that 
the existing tradition was alleged, not as authority, but as historical 
evidence, and that it was alleged subordinately to the argument from the 
Bible itself. Compare especially the paragraph at the close of Sozom. i. 
17 : of Se IffxvplCovro j3ouAf)s. Ibid. i. 25 : /ierd "f)Tr)<riv a/cptjSfj Kal 
pdffavov irdvTwy ruv a/jupififaow SoiciiJ.aade'io'a.v. A slight reminiscence of 
this aspect of the Council is preserved in the picture of it in the Iberian 
monastery at Athos, where the heretics are represented as eagerly poring 
over the arguments of the Orthodox. 
1 Soc. i. 8. 2 Eus. V. C. iii. 6. 



THE Emperor had already been at Nicaea on the 23rd of 
May, as we happen to learn by an edict dated from that city 
against usurers in Palestine. 1 Probably he had come before 
the arrival of the Bishops, to ascertain that fit preparations 
were made for their reception. He had then, as it would 
seem, returned to Nicomedia, to celebrate his victory over 
Licinius. If he waited for the actual anniversary, he must 
have remained there till the 3rd of July, and consequently 
could not have arrived at Nicasa till the 5th. The earlier 
dates, however, for the opening of the Council the i4th or 
the i Qth of June are inconsistent with so long a delay. We 
must be content, therefore, to leave the precise day in doubt. 

The first news that greeted him on his arrival must have 
been an unpleasing surprise. He had no sooner taken up his 
quarters in the Palace at Nicaea, then he found showered in 
upon him a number of parchment rolls, or letters, containing 
complaints and petitions against each other from the larger 
part 2 of the assembled Bishops. We cannot ascertain wih 
certainty whether they were collected in a single day, or went 
on accumulating day after day. 3 It was a poor omen for the 
unanimity which he had so much at heart. 

We may indeed make some excuses. We may remember 
how, even in prison, the English Reformers maintained an 
unceasing strife with each other on the dark points of Calvinism. 
We are expressly told, both by Eusebius and Sozomen, that 
one motive 4 which had drawn many to the Council was the 
hope of settling their own private concerns, and promoting 
their own private interests. It was the practice to seize the 
opportunity of solemn processions 5 of the sovereigns to temples 
and afterwards to churches, as even now of the Sultans to 
mosques, in order to lay wait with petitions, as the only means 
of catching their attention. There, too, were the pent-up 
grudges and quarrels of years ; which now for the first time 

1 Cod. Theod. i. p. xxv. 

z Soc. i. 8 : ol Tr\eioves. This contradicts the later notion that the 
Arians were the only complainants. 

3 Soc. i. 8. 

4 Eus. V. C. iii. 6 ; Soz. i. 17. B See Dufresne, UptoSos. 


Opening of the Council 147 

had an opportunity of making themselves heard. Never before 
had these remote, often obscure, ministers of a persecuted sect 
come within the range of Imperial power. He whose presence 
was for the first time so close to them, bore the same authority 
of which the Apostle had said that it was the supreme earthly 
distributor of justice to mankind. Still, after all due allowance, 
it is impossible not to share in the Emperor's astonishment 
that this should have been the first act of the first (Ecumenical 
Assembly of the Christian Church. Constantine received the 
letters in silence. 1 His reply we shall hear, when at his own 
time he chooses to give it. 

The meetings of the representatives, which had up to this 
time been in the church, or gymnasium, or in separate localities, 
were henceforth to be solemnised in the Imperial residence 
itself. It is with reluctance that later controversialists, ac- 
customed to the idea of a Council meeting only within 
consecrated walls, will admit of this transference. But the 
fact is undoubted, and is in accordance not only with the 
paramount importance of the Emperor on this occasion, but 
with the precedent already established in the little Council in 
the Lateran Palace at Rome, and afterwards confirmed by the 
two Councils held in the vaulted room called the " Trullus " in 
the palace at Constantinople. Tradition points out the spot, 
marked by a few broken columns, at the south-west angle of 
the walls, close by the shores of the lake. A solitary plane 2 
tree grows on the ruins. The chamber prepared for their 
reception was a large oblong hall, 3 in the centre of the palace 
the largest that it contained. Benches 4 were ranged along 
the walls on 5 each side for those of lower dignity, and seats, or 
chairs, for those of higher ; along these were ranged the 300 
prelates, perhaps with their assistant deacons and presbyters. 
In the centre of the room, on a seat or throne, was placed 
a copy of the Holy Gospels, 6 as the nearest approach to the 

1 It is probably this scene (with another later incident) which led the 
first Regius Professor of Divinity in Oxford to describe the Nicene fathers 
as a set of demoniacs, driven by evil furies and malignant passions. (Peter 
Martyr,~Comm. on I Kings xii.) 

2 I have been informed by the present Bishop of Nicaea that this tree is 
supposed to stand on the site of the throne. 

3 Eus. V. C. iii. 10. 4 Theod. i. 7 ; Eus. V. C. iii. 10. 
6 Niceph. viii. 16. 

6 Westcott on the Canon, 496. This at least was the custom of the 
later Councils, as of Ephesus. (Ib. 175.) See Suicer, Evo77eA.toj/ } p. 1227; 
and so it is in the picture at Nicsea. 

148 The Council of Nicaea 

presence of Christ Himself. Every eye was fixed on one 
small vacant stall or throne, carved in wood, richly gilt, such 
as was usually 1 occupied by the sovereign at the Circus or 
Hippodrome now placed in the upper end of the hall, 
between the two ranges of seats. The long-sustained dis- 
putations, the eager recriminations, were at last hushed into 
a deep silence. Not a voice broke the stillness of that 
expectation which precedes the coming of a long wished-for, 
unknown spectacle, the onward march of a distant pro- 
cession. 2 Presently a stir was heard, first one, then another, 
and then a third, of the officers of the court dropped in. 
Then the column widened. But still the wonted array of 
shields and spears 3 was absent. The heathen guards were not 
to enter the great Christian assembly which had, as it were, 
consecrated the place where it sate. Only those courtiers 
who were converted to the Christian faith were allowed to 
herald the approach of their master. At last a signal from 
without probably a torch raised by the "cursor," or avant- 
courier 4 announced that the Emperor was close at hand. 
The whole assembly rose and stood on their feet ; and then 
for the first time set their admiring gaze on Constantine, the 
Conqueror, the August, the Great. He entered. His towering 
stature, 5 his strong-built frame, his broad shoulders, his hand- 
some features, were worthy of his grand position. 6 There 
was a brightness in his look and a mingled expression of 
fierceness and gentleness 7 in his lion-like eye which well 
became one who, as Augustus before him, had fancied, and 
perhaps still fancied, himself to be the favourite of the Sun-god 
Apollo. The Bishops were further struck by the dazzling, 
perhaps barbaric, magnificence of his dress. Always careful of 
his appearance, he was so on this occasion in an eminent 
degree. His long hair, false or real, was crowned with the 
imperial diadem of pearls. His purple or scarlet robe blazed 
with precious stones and gold embroidery. He was shod no 
doubt in the scarlet shoes 8 then confined to the Emperors, 

1 Eus. V. C. iii. 10 : /caflior/xa. See Dufresne in voce. 

2 Ibid. iii. 10 : irpo65ov. The word always used for the Imperial pro- 
cessions. Dufresne in voce. 

3 The appearance of a single guard (speculator) at the Council of Tyre 
was the subject of much remark. (Ath. Apol. c. Arian. 8.) 

4 For the torches carried by the avant-couriers, see Eus. Paneg. i. I. 

6 Eus. V. C. iii. 10. 6 See Lecture VI. 

7 Cedrenus, i. 472. 

8 " Campagi." See Mr. Payne Smith's note on John of Ephesus, p. 56. 

Opening of the Council 149 

now perpetuated in the Pope and Cardinals. Many of the 
Bishops had probably never seen any greater functionary than 
a remote provincial magistrate, and gazing at his splendid figure 
as he passed up the hall between their ranks remembering 
too what he had done for their faith and for their Church, 
we may well believe that the simple and the worldly both 
looked upon him as though he were an angel of God, descended 
straight from Heaven. 1 Yet the awe was not exclusively on 
their side. 2 However imperfect may have been Constantine's 
religion, yet there can be little doubt that, as far as it went, it 
was devout even to superstition. It was a solemn moment for 
him to find himself for the first time in the midst of the 
representatives of the great community of which he had so 
recently professed himself a sincere adherent. Whatever 
sacredness had before in his eyes attached to flamens and 
augurs, now in a still higher degree he transferred to the 
venerable men who stood before him, and whose very looks, 
whose very disfigurements, bore witness to the earnestness and 
energy of their young and vigorous faith. The colour rushed 
to the Emperor's cheeks. 3 We cannot forget how far more 
innocent and ingenuous was this first Imperial blush, than that 
which became memorable, ages afterwards, in the great Council 
of the Latin Church the "blush of Sigismund" observed at 
Constance, remembered at Worms. It was the genuine ex- 
pression of Constantine's excitement and emotion. As he 
advanced up the hall he cast his eyes down, his steps faltered, 
and when he reached the throne allotted to him, he stood 
motionless, till the Bishops beckoned to him to be seated. He 
then sat down, and they followed his example. 

If he was still anxious as he looked round on so many 
strange faces, he must have been reassured as he looked on 
his right hand and his left. Which of the Bishops occupied 
these places of honour has been vehemently disputed in later 
times, and it is still further complicated by the ambiguity of 
the use of the words. Was the chief seat on the right-hand 
side of the Emperor, or the right-hand side of the hall? 
Apparently, as the Emperor's seat was not permanently there, 

1 Eus. V. C. iii. 10. That this feeling was not peculiar to Eusebius, may 
be gathered from the expressions collected by Dr. Newman in his learned 
note on Athanasius's Tracts, i. 59. In the picture in the Iberian convent 
at Athos, the Sacred Dove hovers over the head (not of the Bishops, but) 
of the Emperor. 

8 See Lecture VI. 8 Eus. V. C. iii. 10. 

150 The Council of Nicaea 

and as the Bishops were arranged irrespectively of his entrance, 
the latter of these two meanings must be adopted. The 
left-hand place has been usually assigned to Hosius of Cor- 
dova; and in a picture of the Nicene Council which adorns 
the Escurial library, the Church of Spain, in her zeal for this 
her eldest and most distinguished son, makes the very most of 
him. But Roman writers, eager to claim the first place for 
him, as the supposed representative of the Papal see, 1 have 
ingeniously argued that the left, and not the right, was, with 
the ancient Romans, the place of honour; and further, what 
is also undoubted although inconsistent with the argument 
just used that the left-hand side of the hall would give him 
the right-hand side of the Emperor. 2 The right-hand post has 
been naturally more contested. In the picture of the Nicene 
Council at Nicsea itself, and also in the annals of the Alexandrian 
Church, 3 it is filled by Alexander of Alexandria. Theodoret 4 
gives it to Eustathius of Antioch. But there can be little 
doubt that, as on one side of the Emperor sat his Western 
favourite Hosius, so on the other side, his Eastern favourite 
Eusebius. Twice over Eusebius has himself told us so ; and 
from him 5 we know how, as soon as Constantine and the 
assembly were seated, he rose from his place, and in metrical 
prose, if not in actual verses, recited an address to the Emperor, 
and then a hymn of thanksgiving to the Almighty for the 
victory over Licinius, of which the anniversary had so lately 
been celebrated. Eusebius resumed his seat, and again a deep 
silence prevailed. All eyes were fixed on Constantine. He 
cast round one of those bright glances of which he was 
master; and then, after a momentary self-recollection, addressed 

1 In ancient pictures it is observed of S. Peter and S. Paul, of the 
Virgin and S. John, that S. Peter and the Virgin are on the left hand of 
the Saviour. (Baronius, 52-60 ; Bellarmine, De Cone. i. 19 ; in Mansi, ii. 


2 In the Council of Chalcedon, the Legates of Rome, with the Bishops 
of Constantinople and Antioch, sat on the left, and the Bishops of 
Alexandria and Jerusalem on the right, of the Imperial officers. But there 
they ranged themselves according to their opinions. (Tillemont, xv. 649.) 

3 Eutych. Ann. i. 444. 

4 i. 7. He must have had some ground for this ; as Eustathius was 
evidently one of his chief authorities for the events of the Council. 

5 Eus. V. C. i. I j iii. i ; Soz. i. 18. A short speech, supposed to be 
the one now spoken, but really written by Gregory of Neocsesarea in the 
seventh century, is preserved in Fabricius, Biblioth. Gr. ix. 132. Its use 
of the words fda oixria ev rpicriv inroffTda-effi is fatal to its genuineness. 
Nicephorus (viii. 16) and Epiphanius Scholasticus (ii. 5) give the first 
speech to Eustathius, the second to Eusebius. 

Opening of the Council 151 

them in a short speech, exhorting concord and unanimity. 
It was in Latin, on so solemn an occasion he would not 
depart from the Imperial language, in which long afterwards 
the laws even of his new capital were written, and, therefore, 
very few of those present could have understood it. But there 
was a gentleness and sweetness in his voice which arrested the 
attention of all ; and as soon as it was concluded the Imperial 
dragoman or interpreter translated l it into Greek. 

" It has, my friends, been the object of my highest wishes, 
to enjoy your sacred company, and having obtained this, 
I confess my thankfulness to the King of all, that in addition 
to all my other blessings He has granted to me this greatest of 
all I mean, to receive you all assembled together, and to see 
one common harmonious opinion of all. Let, then, no envious 
enemy injure our happiness, and, after the destruction of the 
impious power of the tyrants by the might of God our Saviour, 
let not the Spirit of evil overwhelm the Divine law with 
blasphemies ; for to me far worse than any war or battle is 
the civil war of the Church of God ; yes, far more painful than 
the wars which have raged without. As, then, by the assent 
and co-operation of a higher power, I have gained my victories 
over my enemies, I thought that nothing remained but to give 
God thanks, and to rejoice with those who have been delivered 
by us. But since I learned of your divisions, contrary to all 
expectations, I gave the report my first consideration; and 
praying that this also might be healed through my assistance, 
I called you all together without delay. I rejoice at the mere 
sight of your assembly ; but the moment that I shall consider 
the chief fulfilment of my prayers will be when I see you all 
joined together in heart and soul, and determining on one 
peaceful harmony for all, which it should well become you 
who are consecrated to God, to preach to others. Do not, 
then, delay, my friends ; do not delay, ministers of God, and 
good servants of our common Lord and Saviour, to remove all 
grounds of difference, and to wind up by laws of peace every 
link of controversy. Thus will you have done what is most 
pleasing to the God who is over all, and you will render the 
greatest boon to me, your fellow-servant." 2 

1 Eus. V. C. iii. 13 : v<ppfjn)veuovros. As late as the Council of 
Chalcedon, the Emperor Marcian spoke in Latin, which was then 
translated into Greek. (Mansi, vii. 127.) A false speech of Constantine 
is given in Gelas. iii. 7. 

Eus. V. C. iii. 12. 

152 The Council of Nicaea 

The Council was now formally opened, and the Emperor 
gave permission to the presidents of the assembly to commence 
their proceedings. 

In the Egyptian traditions this was enlarged into a formal 
authorisation of the legal powers of the Council. He gave to 
them, it was said, his ring, his sword, and his sceptre, with the 
words, " To you I have this day given power over my empire, 
to do in it whatever you think fit for the promotion of religion 
and for the advantage of the faithful." 1 This, no doubt, is 
a later invention. But it is probably so far correct that the 
Emperor's intention was to constitute them into an indepen- 
jdent body for the settlement of these questions, however 
much his personal influence controlled their decisions, and 
his authority might be needed for the ratification of their 
decrees. 2 

The plural number used by Eusebius to designate the 
presidency of the Council, renders it probable that the two 
Bishops of the leading sees, Alexandria and Antioch, 3 must 
be amongst those intended; the general testimony points to 
Hosius as another, who, from the causes already mentioned, 
would naturally be what he is expressly styled by Athanasius, 
leader of all the Councils ; and to these, by his own account, 
we must add Eusebius of Csesarea. 

From this moment the flood-gates of debate were opened 
wide ; and from side to side recriminations and accusations 
were bandied to and fro, without regard to the Imperial 
presence. He remained unmoved amidst the clatter of angry 
voices, turning from one side of the hall to the other, giving 
his whole attention to the questions proposed, bringing together 
the violent partisans. He condescended to lay aside his stately 
Latin, and addressed them in such broken Greek as he could 
command, still in that sweet and gentle voice, praising some, 
persuading others, putting others to the blush, but directing 
all his energies to that one point, which he has himself 
described as his aim, a unanimity of decision. 4 We have 
it on his own authority, that he reckoned himself as one of 

1 Eutych. i. 443. 

2 Athanasius (Apol. c. Ar. c. 9) is full of horror at a count having 
presided at the Council of Tyre. Technically speaking, this was incon- 
sistent with the precedents of Nicaea. But the Emperor's officers appeared 
frequently in the Council of Chalcedon. Mansi, vi. 822. 

3 In Facundus, i. i, xi. I, Eustathius is president. 

4 Eus. V. C. iii. 13. 

Opening of the Council 153 

the number as a bishop for the time being; 1 and that he 
took an active part in the discussion. It was probably in this 
first session that he put a stop to those personal quarrels, of 
which he had already had the earliest instalment on his arrival 
on the preceding day. 2 We cannot doubt, from the eagerness 
with which their complaints had been handed in, that this 
must have been the uppermost thought in the minds of most 
of the assembly when the debates began, and their expectation 
would be raised to a high pitch when the Emperor produced 
before the Council, from the folds of his mantle, 3 the petitions 
on their papyrus or parchment rolls. He pointed to them as 
they lay, bound up and sealed with his Imperial ring; and 
then, after declaring with a solemn oath 4 (his usual mode of 
attestation) that he had not read one of them, he ordered 
a brazier 5 to be brought in, in which they were burnt at once 
in the presence of the assembly. Three speeches are given by 
the different historians on the occasion, each probably expressive 
of three different turns which the Emperor's mind may have 
taken. According to Socrates, after having dwelt on the 
importance of dismissing those personal disputes, if they hoped 
to arrive at a conclusion on the great matter which had called 
them together, he added 6 just this one pregnant remark, as 
the parchments were smouldering in the flames "It is the 
command of Christ, that he who desires to be himself forgiven, 
must first forgive his brother." 7 According to Theodoret and 
Rufinus, there was mingled with this feeling of disgust at the 
want of Christian concord in them, and with the desire for it 
in his own mind, something of the almost superstitious awe 

1 Soc. i. 9. (30.) 

2 In this I follow the account of Socrates, because, 

(a) He is more precise in his statement of the days than the others. 

(b) His account is confirmed by Gelasius, and not absolutely contradicted 
by Rufinus and Sozomen. 

(c) The mention of the purple robe in Theodoret, i. 10, agrees with the 
Emperor's dress on the first day. 

(d) The incident naturally finds a place in the general scene described by 
Eusebius, V. C. iii. 13. 

(e) The -impression conveyed by Eusebius, V. C. iii. 12, is that the 
greater part of the assembly then saw Constantine for the first time. 

3 Rufinus, H. E. i. 2 : "In sinu suo continens." 

4 For his oath, see Lecture VI. B Niceph. viii. 17. 

6 Soc. i. viii. 20 : fasnr&v fj.6voi/. 

7 Dioscorus, President of the (Robber) Council of Ephesus, rejected 
like complaints for a very different reason. See the excellent remarks of 
Theodoret, Ep. 147. 

154 The Council of Nicaea 

which animated him, as we have already seen, in the presence 
of the Christian clergy. Perhaps, also, he may have intended 
a stroke of that quiet humour which was one of the happiest 
characteristics of his public speeches. 1 " You have been made 
by God priests and rulers, to judge and decide . . . and have 
ven been made Gods, so highly raised as you are above 
men ; for it is written * I have said ye are Gods, and ye are 
all the children of the Most High;' 'and God stood in the 
congregation of the gods, and in the midst He judges the 
gods.' 2 You ought really to neglect these common matters, 
and devote yourselves to the things of God. It is not for me 
to judge of what awaits the judgment of God only." 'And as 
the libels vanished into ashes, he urged them "Never to let 
the faults of men in their consecrated offices be publicly 
known, to the scandal and temptation of the multitude." 
"Nay," he added, doubtless spreading out the folds of his 
Imperial mantle as he spoke, even though I were with my own 
eyes to see a bishop in the act of gross sin, 3 I would throw my 
purple robe over him, that no one might suffer from the sight 
of such a crime." * 

The theological controversy which followed, though doubtless 
lightened and sweetened by this abrupt disentanglement of it 
from bitter personal grievances, was more difficult to terminate. 
And we have no continuous account of the mode in which 
it was conducted. We know not whether it lasted weeks or 
days. 4 Of the two eye-witnesses, one (Eusebius) tells us next 
to nothing ; the other ( Athanasius) writes with such a special 
purpose, that it is hard to extract from him the actual facts. 
Still certain incidents transpire, and those, in however frag- 
mentary a manner, I shall now endeavour to describe. 

We have hitherto viewed the Council in its national divisions, 
and in its arrangement of outward precedence. We now pro- 
ceed to view it as it broke itself up into theological parties. 5 

The Orthodox side would be represented by the Alexandrian 
Bishop and his deacon Athanasius ; the extreme right being 
occupied by the exaggerated vehemence of Marcellus of 
Ancyra. 6 

1 Victor, 23 : "Irrisor potius quam blandus." 2 Ruf. i. 2. 

3 Theod. i. 10. That gross licentiousness was one of the complaints 
brought forward may be gathered from the charges brought against 
Eustathius of Antioch and Athanasius. 

4 Ruf. i. 5 : " Per dies singulos agitabatur conventus." 

5 This is well given in Hefele, i. 273. 

6 Ath. Apol. c. Arian. 23, 32. Cyril. Alex. torn. v. pt. i. p. 4. 

Opening of the Council 155 

The opposite party would be represented by the three 
Bithynian Bishops, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Theognis, and 
Maris, with those prelates of Palestine and Asia Minor who 
had committed themselves to the same view, deepening on 
the extreme left into Arius himself supported by his two 
boldest adherents, Theonas and Secundus. 

The great mass of the assembled Bishops 1 would occupy 
the centre between these two extremes; shading off on the 
one side, through men like Leontius and Hosius, into the 
party of Alexander and Athanasius ; and on the other, through 
men like Eusebius of Csesarea and Paulinus of Tyre, into the 
extreme Arian party of the Bithynian Bishops. 2 

The discussion was, like those which had preceded it, based 
on the principle of free inquiry, and not of authority. The 
duty so hateful to theological adversaries of "exact state- 
ment," " searching trial," and "hearing both sides," is repeatedly 
and expressly mentioned, both in the narratives and documents 
of the Nicene assembly. 3 

Small as the Arian minority eventually appeared to be, it 
is clear, from the account of the debates which followed the 
opening of the Council, that they must have had a hope of 

It may have been this confidence that caused their ruin. 
At least it appears that the chief recoil against them was 
occasioned by the overweening subtlety or rashness of their 

1 Neander (iv. 40) well points out the unfairness of Athanasius in 
ignoring this large intermediate party. 

2 The Arian bishops are thus reckoned by Philostorgius : 

i. Sentianus of Boreum. 13. Athanasius of Anazarbus. 

2.. Dachius of Berenice. 14. Tarcodinatus of 

3. Secundus of Theuchira. 15. Leontius 

4. Zopyrus of Barca. 16. Longianus of Cappadocia. 

5. Secundus of Ptolemais. 17. Eulalius 

6. Theonas of Marmarica. 18. Basil of Amasia ^j 

7. Meletius of Thebes. 19. Meletius of Se- [- Pontus. 

8. Patrophilus of Scythopolis. bastopolis 

9. Eusebius of Cczsarea, 20. Theognis of Niccea. 

10. Paulinus of Tyre, 21. Maris of Chalcedon. 

11. Amphion of Sidon. 22. Eusebius the Great of Nico- 

12. Narcissus of Irenopolis media. See Walch, i. 471. 


The names in italics are also mentioned by Theodoret (i. 5, 7) ; 

Theodoret of Ileraclea is added by Gelasius of Cyzicus (ii. 7) ; and 
Theodorus of Laodicea, Gregory of Berytus, and Aerius of Lydda by 
Theodoret (i. 5). 

3 Soc. i. 9, passim. 

156 The Council of Nicaea 

own statements, which were all more or less aggressive. 
Arius, though as a presbyter he had no seat in the Council, 
was frequently called upon to express his opinions, 1 and was 
usually confronted with Athanasius. 2 It was now, apparently, 
that the Council first heard the songs which Arius had written 
under the name of Thalia 3 for the sake of popularising his 
speculations with the lower orders. The songs were set to 
tunes, or written in metres, which had acquired a questionable 
reputation from their use in the licentious verses of the 
heathen poet Sotades, ordinarily used in the low revels or 
dances of Alexandria ; and the grave Arius himself is said, in 
moments of wild excitement, to have danced like an Eastern 
dervish, whilst he sang these abstract statements in long 
straggling lines, of which about twenty are preserved to us. 4 
To us the chief surprise is that any enthusiasm should have 
been excited by sentences 5 such as these: "God was not 
always Father; once he was not Father; afterwards He became 
Father." But, in proportion to the attraction which they 
possessed for the partisans of Arius, was the dismay which 
they roused in the minds of those by whom the expressions 
which Arius thus lightly set aside were regarded as the watch- 
words of the ancient faith. The Bishops, on hearing the song, 
raised their hands in horror, and, after the manner of Orientals, 
when wishing to express their disgust at blasphemous words, 
kept their ears fast closed, and their eyes fast shut. 6 

It was doubtless at this point that occurred the incident, 
whatever it be, embodied in the legend which I have before 
noticed, of the sudden outbreak of fury in Nicolas, Bishop of 
Myra, who is represented in the traditional pictures of the 
Council as dealing a blow with all his force at Arius's jaw. 
It is this incident, real or imaginary, that gave some colour to 
the charge of violence brought by Peter Martyr against the 
Nicene fathers. But the story itself bears witness to the 

1 Ruf. i. 5. He was there by the Emperor's command. (Ib. i. I.) 

2 See Lecture III. p. 130. A fictitious "Dispute of Athanasius and 
Arius" is found in Athanasius's works, ii. p. 205. 

3 Soc. i. 9, 29. Apollinarius did the same. His songs were sung at 
banquets, and at work, and by women weaving. Soz. vi. 25. 

* Ath. Or. c. Ar. i. 4. 

B The extracts are given in Ath. Or. c. Ar. i. 5. 

6 Ath. Or. c. Ar. i. 7. Ath. ad Ep. in Egypt. 13 : fKpdrovv ras aitozs. 
Conf. Acts vii. 56 : ffvvfa-^ov ra SIT a. This incident has given rise to the 
groundless complaint of the Polish theologian, Sandius, that Arius was 
condemned unheard. 

Opening of the Council 157 

humane spirit which exalts this earliest Council above its 
successors. The legend, best known in the West, goes on to 
say that for this intemperate act S. Nicolas was deprived of his 
mitre and pall, which were only restored to him long afterwards 
by the intervention of angels ; so that in many old pictures he 
is represented as bareheaded, and with his shoulders uncovered. 1 
But in the East, the story assumes a more precise and more 
polemical form. The Council, it is said, on Arius's appeal, 
imprisoned and deprived the Bishop of Myra. But in prison, 
the Redeemer, whose honour he had vindicated, appeared with 
His mother : the One restored to him the Gospel, the other 
the pall ; and with these credentials he claimed and obtained 
his freedom. 2 It is not often that the contradiction between 
Christ as He is in the Evangelical history, and Christ as He 
is in the fancies of theologians, is so strongly brought out. 

At this same conjuncture it must have been that the first 
draft of a Creed was produced in the Council, signed by the 
eighteen 3 extreme Arian partisans. Its contents are not 
given. But it was received with tumultuous disapprobation ; 
the document, was torn to pieces, and the subscribers, all 
except Theonas and Secundus, gave up Arius on the spot, 
and he was removed from the assembly. 

These violent attacks and explosions were, however, in all 
probability, mere episodes in the assembly. The main object 
of the Emperor in convening the Council was not to lengthen 
divisions, but to secure a unanimous signature to its final 
report. Like our own Elizabeth, he regarded the points at 
issue as of less moment than the formation of one compact 
Imperial Church. As may be seen in public meetings and 
discussions of every-day occurrence, the devotion of any one 
leading person to this single aim is almost sure to succeed. 
Two powerful efforts were made for this purpose by the 
Emperor's two chief advisers the supporters of what I have 
called the central party, the cross benches of the assembly; 
and from a combination of these two the desired result was 
finally brought to pass. 

1 Nauclerus, Chronographia, 506. Molanus, Hist. Sacr. Imag. iii. 53. 
(Ittig, 38.) Molanus interprets the absence of mitre and pall as an 
indication of the schism and degradation of the Greek Church. 

2 This version I heard in Mount Athos. The vision in the prison is 
a frequent subject of pictures there. 

3 Theod. i. 6. For the eighteen Bishops see p. 155. It was probably 
from combining this minority with the round numbers of the majority that 
the traditional number of 318 was attained. 

158 The Council of Nicaea 

The solution of the difficulty was sought in the production 
of an ancient Creed, which had existed before the rise of the 
controversy. Excellent and obvious as such a solution always 
is, this seems to have been the first attempt of the kind. It 
was proposed by Eusebius of Caesarea. He announced that 
the confession of faith which he was about to propose was 
no new form it was the same which he had learned in his 
childhood from his predecessors in the see of Csesarea l during 
the time that he was a catechumen, and at his baptism, and 
which he taught for many years, as Presbyter and as Bishop. 
It had been approved by the Emperor, 2 the beloved of 
Heaven, who had already seen it. It accorded with his own 
view, that Divine things cannot be precisely described in 
human language. He held strongly the modern theological 
doctrine, that the Finite can never grasp the Infinite. 3 

This Creed was as follows : " I believe in one God, the 
Father Almighty, Maker of all things both visible and in- 
visible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, 
God of God, Light of Light, Life of Life, the only begotten 
Son, the Firstborn of every Creature, begotten of the Father 
before all worlds, by whom also all things were made. Who 
for our salvation was made flesh, and lived amongst men, and 
suffered, and rose again on the third day, and ascended to the 
Father, and shall come in glory to judge the quick and the 
dead. And we believe in One Holy Ghost. Believing each 
of them to be and to have existed, the Father, only the Father, 
and the Son, only the Son, and the Holy Ghost, only the Holy 
Ghost : As also our Lord sending forth His own disciples to 
preach, said, 'Go and teach all nations, baptising them into 
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy 
Ghost j' concerning which things we affirm that this is so, 
and that we so think, and that it has long so been held, and 
that we remain steadfast to death for this faith, anathematising 
every godless heresy. That we have thought these things 
from our heart and soul, from the time that we have known 
ourselves, and that we now think and say thus in truth, we 
testify in the name of Almighty God, and of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, being able to prove even by demonstration, and to 
persuade you that in past times also thus we believed and 

We recognise at once the basis of the present Nicene Creed, 

1 Ath. de Decret. Syn. Nic. 32. 2 Ibid. 

3 Eus. Eccl. Theol. i. 12. (Neander, Hist. iv. 35.) 

Opening of the Council 159 

and it is a pleasing reflection that this basis was the Creed of 
the Church of Palestine. We have Eusebius's express declar- 
ation that it was what he had himself always been taught in 
his own native city of Csesarea in the plains of Sharon ; and 
the fact that this declaration occurs in a letter to the in- 
habitants of that very place is a guarantee for the truth of 
his statement. An additional confirmation is supplied by its 
likeness to the Creed preserved by Cyril, in the neighbouring 
Church of Jerusalem. One phrase, which dropped out of the 
Creed in its subsequent passage through the Council, must 
have had a touching sound as repeated amongst the hills and 
valleys of the Holy Land ; " who for our salvation lived 
amongst men." 

The Emperor had read and approved this Confession. The 
Arian minority were willing to adopt it. But this very fact 
was in the eyes of the opposite party a fatal difficulty. They 
were determined to find some form of words which no Arian 
could receive. They seemed to see sinister glances, to hear 
dark mutterings interchanged among their opponents, 1 as this 
or that Orthodox expression was mentioned ; on every term, 
" God," " Image," " Power," was put some interpretation which 
just eluded the desired meaning. Texts were quoted from 
Scripture, and even from the Shepherd of Hermas, to show 
the large sense of the disputed words. At last the weapon 
which they had been seeking to cut off the head of their 
enemy, was suddenly drawn from his own scabbard. 2 A letter 
was produced from Eusebius of Nicomedia, in which he 
declared that to assert the Son to be uncreated would be to- 
say that He was " of one substance " (6/xoovo-tov) with the 
Father and therefore that to say " He was of one substance," 
was a proposition evidently absurd. 

The letter produced a violent excitement. There was the 
very test of which they were in search. The letter was torn 
in pieces 3 to mark their indignation, and the phrase which 

1 Ath. de Dec. Syn. Nic. c. 19, 20; ad Afros, 5, 6: rovQopv^ovra.5 Kal 
Siavevovras rols 6(p6aAfj.o'is. 

2 Ambrose de Fide, iii. 15. 

3 Eustathius apud Theod. i. 7. The document here mentioned has been 
identified sometimes with the Creed of Arius, described in page 157 ; 
sometimes with that of Eusebius of Csesarea in page 158; but the first 
supposition is disproved by the order of events, and the second by the 
mention of Nicomedia in the work of Ambrose de Fide, iii. 15. Com p. 
Neander, iv. 40. 

160 The Council of Nicaea 

he had pledged himself to reject became the phrase which 
they pledged themselves to adopt. 

The decisive expression " of one substance " was not alto- 
gether unknown. It was one of those remarkable words 
which creep into the language of philosophy and theology, and 
then suddenly acquire a permanent hold on the minds of 
men. " Predestination," " Original Sin," " Prevenient Grace," 
"Atonement;" there is an interest attaching to the birth, 
the growth, the dominion of words like these, almost like 
that which attaches to the birth and growth and dominion of 
great men or great institutions. Such a phrase was the sin- 
gular compound " Homoousion : " in its native Greek, though 
abstract, yet simple, and, in its own metaphysical element, 
almost natural ; but in the Latin and Teutonic languages 
becoming less and less intelligible, though even there, as 
" Consubstantial," " of one substance," retaining a force, 
which the contemporary phrases like " Circumincession " and 
"Projection" have entirely lost. The history of the word is 
full of strange vicissitudes. 1 It was born and nurtured, if not 
in the home, at least on the threshold, of heresy. It first 
distinctly appeared in the statement, given by Irenaeus, of the 
doctrines of Valentinus, 2 then for a moment acquired a more 
Orthodox reputation in the writings of Dionysius 3 and Theo- 
gnostus of Alexandria; then it was coloured with a dark 
shade by association with the teaching of Manes ; 4 next pro- 
posed as a test of Orthodoxy at the Council of Antioch against 
Paul of Samosata ; and then by that same Council was con- 
demned as Sabellian. 

On the present occasion it is said to have been first talked 
over at Nicomedia when Alexander met with Hosius on his 
way to the Council. 5 The immediate cause of its selection 
in the Council we have already seen. As soon as it was put 
forth a torrent of invective was poured out against it by the 
Arians. It was, so they maintained, unscriptural, heretical, 
materialistic. It was Sabellian. It was Montanistic. It 
denied the separate existence of the Son. 6 It implied a 

1 For a 'general account of it, see Suicer's Thes. in voce ; Newman's 
Arians, c. ii. 4 ; Bull, Def. Fid. Nic. ii. i, 16. 

2 Adv. Hser. .'. 5, I ; i. 5, 5. The Dialogue of Origen contra Marcion. 
A.D. 230, and the treatise "Pcemander," A.D. 120, to which Bull refers 
-as containing the expression, are by recent writers ascribed to a later age. 

3 Apud. Ath. de Syn. 43. 4 Ath. de Syn. 16. 
5 Philost. i. 7. 6 Soc. i. 23. 

Opening of the Council 161 

physical cohesion of the various parts of the Godhead. 1 On 
the other hand, Athanasius and his friends retorted, that it 
was not more unscriptural than the dogmatic language of 
Arius himself; that if it was not found in Scripture in the 
actual form in which they proposed it, it was found at least 
in compound words and in roots of words : if not 6/xoovonos, 
Homoousios, at least there were Periousios and Epiousios ; 
if not ousia itself, there was ovo-a aet, "always existing." 2 
If it had been used by heretics, and been condemned as 
heretical, this had been in another sense. It had been de- 
fended by at least one Orthodox 3 writer of former times. It 
was found in sense, if not in words, 4 both in Scripture and 
in the Fathers. If the acceptance of it seemed to savour of 
recent Sabellianism, the rejection of it seemed to involve 
Polytheism, and a return to the ancient Paganism. 5 

The historian Socrates, 6 looking back on this and similar 
debates from the next century, compares the combatants to 
two armies engaged in a battle at night, neither knowing the 
meaning of the other's terms ; each agreeing in the personal 
existence of the Son, and acknowledging the Unity of God 
in Three Persons, yet unable to agree or to rest in their com- 
mon belief. Nor was this view altogether alien from the 
calmer judgment of the great Athanasius himself. He, as 
Bishop Kaye has well observed, 7 rarely if ever uses the 
disputed word in his own statements of the truth ; he avoids 
it as if it had a dangerous sound ; and also, with a modera- 
tion and an insight unusual in the chief of a theological 
party, he is willing, unlike the extremer partisans of his 
school, to surrender the actual word if it cause offence to 
weaker brethren, and if there was reason to suppose that the 
same sense was intended. 

The course of many centuries has taken out of this famous 
word alike its heretical associations and its polemical bitter- 
ness. At the time, it indicated the exact boundary, the 
water-mark, which the tide of controversy had reached. 
When Hosius 8 had been at Alexandria with Constantine's 
letter of pacification, he had endeavoured to mediate between 
the contending parties, by attacking the Sabellian as well as 

1 As of particles of gold in a mass, of a child to a parent, of a tree to 
A root. Soc. i. 8. 

2 Ambrose de Fid. iii. 15. 8 Ath. de Syn. 43. 

4 Ibid. i. 270. 6 Soc. i. 23. Ibid. 

7 Kaye on Nicsea, p. 57. See Lecture VII. 8 Soc. iii. 7. 


1 62 The Council of Nicaea 

the Arian controversialists. Two words had then come into 
antagonism, of which one was closely connected with the 
epithet now about to be introduced ousia and hypostasis. 
These words, which in the Greek of that time were almost 
identical in meaning, and of which the Latin language 
almost used the one (sub-stantia = hypostasis) as the trans- 
lation of the other (ousia\ were just beginning to show the 
divergences which afterwards dragged them to the opposite 
points of the theological compass. When, therefore, the 
" Homoousion " appeared in the Nicene debates, it seemed 
a favourable opportunity for the advocates of the several 
meanings of these two cognate words to press on the Council 
this decision also. But the leading members of the assembly 
had gone as far as they could. If Athanasius showed in 
youth the same moderation on this question that he after- 
wards displayed in age, 1 he must have thrown his weight into 
the decision at which the Council arrived, to allow not a 
word to be said on the subject. The phrase ousia was just 
named in the Creed itself. But the phrase hypostasis was 
mentioned only in allusion to a condemned error, and in 
such a context as to confound the two terms together, and, 
so far as in the Council lay, to render impossible the anti- 
thesis between ousia and hypostasis (substance and person), 
which was made the basis of later confessions. 

To the formula, as thus limited, the consent of the Emperor 
was now to be obtained. He would be led to acquiesce in 
the term Homoousion from the motives which had guided him 
throughout. He saw that the Creed of Eusebius could never, 
in its original form, gain the assent of the Orthodox, that is, 
the most powerful part of the assembly. He trusted that by 
this insertion they might be gained, and yet that, under the 
pressure of fear and favour, the others might not be altogether 
repelled. He therefore took the course the most likely to 
secure this result, and professed himself the patron 2 and also 
the interpreter of the new phrase. The various sections that 
gathered round Eusebius of Caesarea had, on a previous 
occasion, been forced into dead silence by their own divisions. 3 
But now, by their acceptance of the Emperor's terms of peace, 
they, in their turn, checked the vehemence of their opponents ; 
and another silence, no less profound, fell on the chief speakers 
of the Orthodox party. 4 In this silence, the time was now 

1 See Lecture VII. 2 Eus. ad Cses. (Theod. i. 12). 

8 Ath. de Dec. Nic. Syn. c. 3. 4 Eustath. apud Theod. i. 8. 

Opening of the Council 163 

come for the other counsellor of Constantine to come forward. 
On the left-hand side of the hall, Hosius of Cordova l rose and 
announced the completion of the Faith or Creed of the Council 
of Nicsea. The actual Creed was written out 2 and read, 
perhaps in consideration of Hosius's ignorance of Greek, by 
Hermogenes, a priest or deacon of Caesarea in Cappadocia, who 
appears, at least on this occasion, to have acted as secretary to 
the Council. In the copies shown at the Council of Chalcedon, 
the 1 9th of June was the date affixed. 3 But this does not seem 
to have been formally incorporated in the Creed, in order (it 
was said) to avoid the inference that the faith which it professed 
was the creation of any single month or day. 4 

6 " We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker 6 
of all things both visible and invisible : 

" And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten 
of the Father, 7 only begotten that is to say, of the substance of 
the Father, God of God? Light of Light, very God of very God, 
begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by 
whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things in 
earth who for us men and for our salvation came down 9 and 
was made flesh, 10 and was made man, 11 suffered, 12 and rose 
again on the third day ; 13 went up into the heavens, and is to 
come again 14 to judge the quick and dead. 15 

"And in the Holy Ghost. 16 

" But those that say, ' there was when He was not] and ' before 
He was begotten He was not] and that l He came info existence 
from what was not] or who profess that the Son of God is of a 

1 Ath. ad Monach. 42 : OVTOS Iv NiKaia, Trier iv ee'0TO. 

2 Basil, Epp. 8 1 and 244. In the picture before described in the 
Iberian convent at Mount Athos, Athanasius is represented as seated on the 
ground, in his deacon's dress, writing out the Creed. 

3 Mansi, vi. 957. 

4 This is contrasted with the precise date affixed by the Arians to the 
Creed of Ariminum. Ath. de Syn. c. 3, 4, 5. 

5 The parts which have since been added to the text of the Creed are 
inserted in the notes. The parts which have been since omitted are in 

6 " of heaven and earth " 7 " before all worlds " 
8 Seep. 171. 9 "from the heavens" 

"of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary " See p. 171. 

"and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate and " 
12 ' ' and was buried " 13 " according to the Scriptures " 

14 "with glory" 16 "and of his kingdom there shall be no end." 

16 Here follows the addition, from the words "the Lord, the Giver of 
Life," to the words " the life of the world to come. Amen." 


The Council of Nicaea 

different .* person' or l substance 1 (erepas vTroo-rao-ew? 17 ovo-tas 1 ), 
or that He is created^ or changeable^ or variable^ are anathematised 
by the Catholic Church." 

In this "the Faith set forth at Nicaea," we have the altered 
shape in which the Creed of Csesarea was established as the 
Creed of the whole Church. Compared with the Creed of 
which it is a modification, or with the later enlargements 
of which mention shall be made presently, its most striking 
feature is extreme abruptness of form, which well indicates 
the desire of its framers not to go a hair's breadth beyond 
what was needed for the special occasion. 

To the Emperor it had been already exhibited in private, 
and was now doubtless exhibited publicly. According to the 
Egyptian traditions, 2 the Bishops, on presenting him with the 
Creed, girt on his side the sword which he had given into their 
hands at the beginning of the Council, saying " This Christian 
Faith (or Creed) do thou now openly profess and defend." 
Fabulous as this story probably is, yet something of the kind may 
have occurred as the basis of a like practice in the Russian 
Church when the Czar pronounces the Creed at his coronation. 
But there was a more substantial exemplification of the lesson 
which the story no doubt was meant to convey. Whether from 
the awe which Constantine entertained for the persons of 
Christian Bishops, or from his desire to enforce unanimity in 
the Church at any cost, he, now that the Creed was determined, 
entirely changed his tone respecting the doctrines against which 
it was levelled. With the rapidity with which some remarkable 
men, even of high intelligence and wide views, throw themselves 
from one state of mind into another, seeing only for the time 
that which is immediately before them, and seeming to forget 
that they have ever held opposite language or opposite opinions, 
Constantine not only received the decision of the Bishops 3 as 
a divine inspiration, but issued a decree of banishment against 
all who refused to subscribe the Creed, denounced Arius and 
his disciples as impious, and ordered that he and his books 
should follow the fate of the Pagan Porphyry ; that he and his 
school should be called Porphyrians, and his books burned, 
under penalty of death to any one who perused them. 4 

1 Ruf. i. 6: "ex alii subsistentia aut substantial' I have used 
* ' person " as the recognised equivalent of vv6ffra<ris. The Authorised 
Version has "person " in Heb. i. 3, "substance" in Heb. xi. i. 

2 Eutychius, i. 444. 8 Ruf. L 5 ; Soc. L 9, 30. 
4 Soc. L 9, 31, 32. 

Opening of the Council 165 

In the Council itself the feelings which the recitation of the 
Creed excited must have been various. To the more simple 
and illiterate of the assembly it probably conveyed the general 
impression of a noble assertion of the greatness and divinity 
of the Saviour of mankind. But the more learned disputants of 
Alexandria probably fixed their attention on the three debated 
points, (two of which have since dropped out of the Creed 
altogether,) namely, the Homoousion, the definition of the 
words "only begotten," and the anathema. To see how these 
portions would be received by those against whom they were 
aimed was now the critical question. 

As the Creed of Nicaea is the first deliberate composition 
of Articles of Faith, so the signatures at Nicsea form the first 
example of subscription to such articles. The actual sub- 
scriptions remained till the beginning of the next century, 1 
and some* imperfect lists have been preserved in various forms. 
At the head of all these lists is Hosius of Cordova : "So I 
believe, as above written ; " followed by the Bishop of Rome 
as represented by his two presbyters. " We have subscribed 
for our Bishop, who is the Bishop of Rome. So he believes 
as above is written." 2 

But the main question was whether those who would have 
been satisfied to adopt the Creed of Eusebius without these 
additions, could be satisfied to adopt it with them. There 
was much hesitation. It is impossible, at this distance of 
time, and with the imperfect accounts of the transaction, to 
judge how far the recusants were influenced by an attachment 
to the positive dogma of Arius, or how far they were sincerely 
scandalised by an expression which appeared to them to savour 
of Sabellianism or Manicheism ; or again how far their 
reluctance was occasioned by scruples of their own or from 
fear of offending their constituents. Eusebius describes in his 
own case what probably took place more or less in the case of 
many others. He took a day for consideration. 8 He deter- 
mined to consult what we should call the " animus imponentis " 
the mind of the imposer. This was easy enough. It was 
his own- master, the Emperor. Constantine declared that the. 
word, as he understood it, involved no such material unity of 
the Persons in the Godhead as Eusebius feared might be 
deduced from it. In this sense, therefore, the Bishop of 
Caesarea adopted the test, and vindicated his adoption of it in 

1 Epiph. Haer. Ixix. n. Jer. adv. Lucif. 20 (ii. 193). 

2 Spicil. Soles, i. 516. 8 Ath. de Dec. Nic. Syn. 3. 

1 66 The Council of Nicaea 

a letter to his diocese. The anathemas against the dogmatic 
statements of Arius presented perhaps a more serious difficulty. 
But here again Eusebius wrote to his Syrian flock that there 
was a sense in which he could fairly condemn the use of these 
expressions, even though he might agree in the truth which 
they had been intended to express. They were none of them 
scriptural terms, and as such were (so the Orthodox party 
themselves had justly pointed out) liable to the same objections 
as those which Eusebius and his friends had brought against 
the homoousion. And in this view he was further fortified by 
the suggestion of the Emperor, that in two of the expressions 
(" there was when He was not," and "before He was begotten 
He was not "), taken literally, there was a contradiction with 
the doctrine held even by Arius himself, "that the Son was 
begotten before all worlds, and that there must have been a 
potential existence even before the actual creation." With 
these reasonings, which much resembled those which 
reconciled the Jansenists to the Papal Bull condemning the 
opinions of Jansenius, Eusebius satisfied himself, and hoped 
to satisfy his excitable congregation in Palestine. Others of 
the same, or even more extreme views, including Paulinus, 
Menophantus, Patrophilus, and Narcissus, followed his example. 
They even sprang forward in eager repudiation of the con- 
demned l dogma. 

Eusebius of Nicomedia, with the two other Bithynian 
Bishops, of Nicaea and of Chalcedon, 2 was less accommodating ; 
indeed he had committed himself more deeply, both to Arius 
personally, and to the condemnation of the test. In this 
difficulty he consulted not the Emperor, but his own special 
patroness the Princess Constantia, widow of Licinius, then 
living at Nicomedia. No doubt her views, though more 
decidedly Arian 3 than her brother's, leaned to . the same 
general conclusion of a wish for uniformity ; and she persuaded 
them to comply, urging (what it is said the Bishops themselves 
urged some years afterwards to Constantine himself) that they 
must be unwilling by their individual scruples to protract a 
t controversy which had already caused him so much anxiety, 
and which, they feared, might, if continued, have the effect of 
driving him back in disgust to his original Paganism. 4 

1 Eustath. apud Theod. i. 8 : irpoirri^ffavTes avade^arl^ouffi. TCL 
pet/u.evoi' S6y/j.a. Rufinus (i. 5) makes 17 the first, and 6 the final, recalci- 

2 Soc. i. 8. 8 See Lecture VI. 4 Soz. iii. I, 9. 

Opening of the Council 167 

There were two stories circulated in after times respecting 
this signature, which cannot both be literally true, but which 
curiously represent the feelings of the time. One, apparently 
proceeding from the Orthodox party, described how, in later 
years, Eusebius and his friends had bribed the keeper of the 
Imperial archives to let them have access to the documents of 
the Council, in order to erase their names ; l and that Eusebius 
had then openly repudiated the homoousion, and in the presence 
of the Emperor torn off a piece of his dress, and said, " What 
I thus see divided I will never believe to be of the same 
substance." Another story proceeded from the extreme Arian 
party, savouring of that peculiar bitterness with which the more 
eager partisans of a failing cause attack its more moderate and 
more conciliating adherents. According to them, the advice 
of Constantia took a more precise form. The fact, remarked 
by Gibbon, that the controversy between homoousion and 
homoiousion turned upon the use of a single letter, would 
naturally occur (so it was said) to the quick mind of the 
Princess, not merely as a mental, but as a physical and literal 
solution of the difficulty ; and accordingly Eusebius, Theognis, 
and Maris satisfied their consciences, and the wishes of their 
Imperial patron and patroness, by dexterously inserting an iota 
into the text of the Creed, 2 and then subscribing it without 

They still, however, refused their assent to the anathemas, on 
the ground already noticed, that though the opinions con- 
demned were false, they were not the opinions held by Arius, 
as they knew from personal knowledge of the man himself. 
This partial assent, however, did not satisfy the Emperor. 
Against Eusebius of Nicomedia there was, besides, a personal 
grudge, as having favoured the rebel Licinius. He and 
Theognis, therefore, were deposed from their sees, Amphion 
and Chrestus were substituted for them, and the edict of 
banishment was issued. Once more they entreated the power- 
ful favour of Constantia, or of her party, with the Emperor ; 
and, on their sending to the Council a final submission and 
explanation of their difficulties, were received, and subscribed all 
the decrees. The date of this last act is not easy to ascertain, 
but it must have been before the close of the Council. 8 

1 Soz. iii. 21. 

2 Philost. i. 8. Snip. Severus (ii. 40) says, probably from this story, that 
the Arians generally satisfied the Council by substituting Spot- for &p.oov<riov. 

3 Soc. i. 14 (42) ; Theod. i. 19. The long negotiations about these 

1 68 The Council of Nicaea 

There remained 1 only the extreme section of the Arian 
party the Bishops Theonas and Secundus, Arius himself, the 
deacon Euzoius, the reader Achillas, and the presbyter Saras. 
Secundus seems to have agreed in the general doctrine of the 
Creed, but refused to sign the anathemas. He left the 
Council after an indignant remonstrance against Eusebius of 
Nicomedia for his first subscription. " Thou hast subscribed 
to escape banishment, but within the year thou shalt be as I 
am." His prediction was only partially fulfilled. The five 
companions were banished indeed, in pursuance of the Imperial 
decree, to Galatia and Illyria. But in the rapid turns of 
fortune or of disposition which seem to have accompanied the 
decision of the Nicene Council, not unlike th'ose at the period 
of the English Reformation they were, before the close of the 
assembly, recalled, 2 and were favourably received after sub- 
scription to the Nicene decrees. So we are informed by 
Jerome, 8 on the authority of old men still living in his time, 
who had been present at the Council, and of the authentic 
acts of the Council, where their names were still to be seen. 

Arius himself disappeared before the close of the Council. 
His book, Thalia, was burnt on the spot ; and this example 
was so generally followed, that it became a very rare work. 
Sozomen had heard of it, but had never seen it. 4 Constantine, 
also, if the letter be really his, condescended to an invective 
against him, mixed in almost equal proportions of puns on his 
name, of jests on his personal appearance, of eager attacks 
upon his doctrine, and of supposed prophecies against him in 
the Sibylline books ; and his letter (or documents correspond- 
ing to it) was posted up in the different towns of the empire. 5 

Bishops seem to imply that at least a month must have passed between the 
drawing up of the Creed and the dissolution of the Council. 

1 The tradition of a distinction between the mass of the Arian party and 
a few obstinate impenitents, is preserved in a picture of the Council in the 
Iberian convent at Mount Athos. A crowd of heretics are represented as 
being admitted to re-union ; whilst a smaller band is driven into a tower or 
prison by an Imperial officer armed with a stout club. 

2 It is not expressly stated that Theonas and Secundus were recalled 
before the end of the Council. Philostorgius (i. 8) says they were recalled 
afterwards when the Emperor became Arian. But the name of Secundus 
appears amongst the signatures. (Godef. ad I.) 

8 Adv. Lucif. c. 20. So also Socrates justly infers from the letter of 
Eusebius and Theognis (i. 14). 

4 Soz. i. 22. 

8 Broglie (i. 398) places this letter before the Council, relying on Epi- 
phanius (Haer. lix. 9). But Epiphanius's account is evidently a confusion 

Opening of the Council 169 

Yet the immediate fate of Arius himself is involved in mystery. 
In the official letter of the Council to the Alexandrian Church, 
it is studiously concealed. In the traditions of the remote 
East, he was believed to have died on the spot under the curse 
of Jacob of Nisibis. 1 But, in fact, he was allowed to return, 
to be received with Theonas and Euzoius, either before the 
conclusion of the Council, or shortly after, with no further 
penalty than a prohibition against returning to Alexandria. 2 
A singular custom in Alexandria commemorated this prohibition. 
There alone in Christendom, no presbyter was allowed to 
preach. 3 

This general amnesty, after such a struggle, and after the 
announcement of measures in appearance so severe, is to be 
ascribed to two causes. The first is that feeling of goodwill 
which I before 4 described as the almost necessary result of 
any general gathering of men not wholly devoured by faction. 
The distance between Arius and Marcellus, on the two extremes, 
was so broken by the intervening stages of opinion, that it was 
probably found almost impossible to refuse to one shade of 
opinion what had been granted to another. In this respect 
the clemency of the Council of Nicaea stood out in strong relief 
against the severity of later Councils, the savage treatment of 
Nestorius at Ephesus, or of Huss at Constance ; and remained 
a standing protest, to which S. Jerome could justly appeal, 
against the harsh intolerance of the Luciferians, who, rather 
than receive a single Bishop tainted with Arianism, would have 
excommunicated the whole Christian world. 

But there was also another reason which facilitated the 
amnesty in the case of the Nicene Council. It is evident that 
both at the time and long afterwards their decision of the 
orthodox faith was looked upon as final. What, indeed, 
the Mussulman chroniclers 5 imagine that the doctrines of 

of the earlier with the later relations of the Emperor to Arius, and the 
testimony of Socrates (i. 9, 15) is decisive the other way : Uavr]yupiK<t>Tpov 
ypdtyas travra-fcov Kara ir6^.eis irpoffedrjKf, StaKcafAcpScav /col ry rrjs elpcavelas 
ijdei StajSaAAcuv avr6v. This passage (i) confirms the genuineness of the 
Emperor's letter ; (2) gives some explanation of it, as a mere ironical and 
rhetorical display ; and (3) shows that it was written after the Council. 

1 Biblioth. Patr. v. p. civ. 

8 Hieron. c. Lucif. 20, ii. 192 ; Soc. i. 14, 2 ; Soz. ii. 16. 

3 Soc. v. 22 (298). Philostorgius (ii. i) says that Alexander was in- 
duced by Constantine to subscribe a formula renouncing the homoottsion ; 
that on this Arius communicated with him ; but that Alexander once more 
returned to his former position. 

4 See Lecture II., p. 114. 5 Hist. Patr. Alex. 76. 

G 2 

170 The Council of Nicaea 

Christianity, unsettled before, were settled once for all at Nicaea, 
this is an exaggeration. But it is certain that the Creed of 
Nicaea was meant to be an end of theological controversy. 
The " Word of the Lord, which was given in the CEcumenical 
Council of Nicaea," says Athanasius, " remaineth for ever." 
Those who had drawn it up were emphatically the fathers of 
Nicaea. To it was applied the text, " Remove not the ancient 
landmark which thy fathers have set." 1 No addition was 
contemplated ; it was of itself sufficient to refute every heresy. 

They believed, and their immediate successors believed, 
that they were, under Constantine, beginning the final stage of 
the Church's history. This belief continued, even after the 
growth of new controversies and the convention of new 
Councils might have seemed to call for a new Profession of 
Faith. Particular Churches retained their special Creeds. 
But the Nicene Creed remained the one public confession. 
The Council of Sardica declared that it was amply sufficient, 
and that no second Creed should ever appear. 2 When the 
next General Council met in 381 at Constantinople, although 
it had to confront two new heresies those of Apollinarius 
and Macedonius it did not venture to do more than recite 
the original Creed of Nicaea. The additions which now appear 
in that Creed, and which are commonly ascribed to the Fathers 
of Constantinople, did probably then make their appearance. 
But they were not drawn up by that Council. They are found 
seven years before in the writings of Epiphanius ; 3 and although 
they may have been put into the exact form in which we now 
see them at the Council, perhaps by Gregory of Nyssa, 4 they 
were not set forth as its Creed, and are first called by that name 
when quoted by the Imperial officers at Chalcedon in 43 1. 6 

The divines of Ephesus showed their sense of the finality of 
the Nicene Creed still more strongly. After reciting it aloud in 
its original simple form, they decreed, as if foreseeing the 
alterations to which the growing spirit of controversy might 
lead, that henceforward no one should " propose, or write, or 
compose any other Creed than that defined by the Fathers in 
the city of Nicaea," under pain of deposition from the clerical 
office if they were clergy, and of excommunication if they were 
laymen. It was not till the next Council, the Fourth General 

1 Dr. Newman's note on Athanasius's Treatises, i. p. 19. 

2 Ath. Tom. ad Antioch. 3, 4. 3 Epiph. Ancor. 120. 
4 Niceph. H. E. xii. 3. 

6 See the case clearly put in Tillemont, ix. 494. 

Opening of the Council 171 

Council, at Chalcedon, that the original exclusive supremacy 
of the old Nicene Creed was impaired. Then, for the first 
time, amidst much remonstrance, 1 the additions of Constan- 
tinople were formally acknowledged, and the enlarged Creed, 
in its present form, was received, though not as superseding the 
original Creed of the First Council, and with a protest against 
any further changes. It is said that the ancient Eastern sects, 
both Monophysite and Nestorian, still bear witness to the fact, 
that no additions had up to this time been made. The Creed, 
as they recite it, is that of Nicaea alone. In the West, even as 
late as the seventh century, 2 it was retained in the Church of 
Spain. But the principle was broken through, and the way 
was opened for still further modifications. The Constantino- 
politan Creed, as set forth at Chalcedon, gradually rose, from 
its co-ordinate position, into the place and name of the Creed 
of Nicaea. The original Arian controversy was now so far in 
the distance, that the polemical elements were regarded as 
unnecessary. The new form of the Creed not only dropped 
some of the emphatic phrases defining the term " begotten of 
the Father," but also abandoned the anathemas against the 
condemned dogmas. 3 On the other hand, the expressions 
which it added concerning the Incarnation and Passion, though 
at the time probably intended only as slight amplifications, 
contain germs which in later ages have fructified into vast 
dogmatic systems. And the enlarged description of the 
attributes of the Spirit gave an opening to the deliberate 
addition of the words " and the Son " to the doctrine of the 
Procession which rent asunder the Churches of East and West. 
In the Western versions of the Creed, besides this one 
important alteration, others appeared of less moment, but not 
to be overlooked. " God of God " was reinserted from the old 
Nicene Creed. " By the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary " was 
another variation. The abstract neutrality of the original (TO 
Kvpiov, TO coo7roiow) was transformed into "Dominum vivifi- 
cantem" in the Latin, and "the Lord and Giver of Life" in 
the English version. " Holy," as an epithet of the Catholic 

1 Thej-emonstrances are given in Mansi, vi. 630, 631, 641 ; the adop- 
tion of the new Creed, vi. 958, vii. 22, 23 ; the principle of its adoption, 
vii. 114, 115. The difficulties are well given in Tillemont, xiv. 442. 

2 Mansi, x. 778. 

3 The only Church in the East, which, whilst adopting the Constant! 
nopolitan Creed, retains the anathemas of the Nicene, is said to be the 
Armenian. Their last appearance in the West is in the Creed of Gregory 
of Tours. (Greg. Tur. i. I.) 

172 The Council of Nicaea 

Church, probably from inadvertence, has been omitted in the 

Such have been the changes of the most unchangeable of 
all the Creeds. So slight a check has even the solemn decree 
of the Council of Ephesus been able to place on the growth of 
controversy, and the modification of the work of the Council of 
Nicaea. That decree has often been quoted as a condemnation 
of the numerous confessions of faith which have in later times 
been introduced : the so-called " Athanasian," in the seventh 
century; the Tridentine, Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican 
Articles in the sixteenth. So far as these confessions are 
regarded as terms of communion, they no doubt (as Burnet 
urged in the case of the Athanasian Creed) 1 run counter to the 
spirit of the Council of Ephesus. But the substitution of the 
Creed 2 as set forth at Chalcedon for that set forth at Nicsea, 
though a less important, is a more direct, as it is a more 
universal, violation of the Ephesian decree. We might, if we 
chose, vex ourselves by the thought that every time we recite 
the Creed in its present altered form we have departed from 
the intention of the Fathers of Nicaea, and incurred deprivation 
and excommunication at the hands of the Fathers of Ephesus. 
We might insist on returning to the only Catholic form of the 
Creed, such as it was before it was corrupted at Constantinople, 
Chalcedon, Toledo, and London. But there is a more religious, 
as well as a more rational, inference to be drawn from this 
long series of unauthorised innovations. Every time that the 
Creed is recited, with its additions and omissions, it conveys to 
us the wholesome warning, that our faith is not of necessity 
bound up with the literal text of Creeds, or with the formal 
decrees of Councils. It existed before the Creed was drawn 
up ; it is larger than the letter of any Creed could circumscribe. 3 
The fact that the whole Christian world has altered the Creed 
of Nicaea, and broken the decree of Ephesus, without ceasing 
to be Catholic or Christian, is a decisive proof that common 
sense, after all, is the supreme arbiter and corrective even of 
CEcumenical Councils. 

1 Macaulay's England, iii. 473. 

2 That the Ephesian decree applied to the Constantinopolitan (or 
Chalcedonian) additions, was perceived by Cardinal Julian at the Council 
of Ferrara. (Jenkins* Life of Cardinal Julian, p. 291.) 

3 This is well put in Archbishop Thomson's " Lincoln's Inn Sermons" 
(xii.), and Dr. Temple's Essay on "The Education of the World," p. 41. 



Two questions remained for the decision of the Council, 
now nearly forgotten ; but one of them, at the time, occupying 
almost an equal share of attention with the theological contro- 
versy just concluded ; the other, no doubt, to those who were 
specially concerned, as interesting, as to us it is tedious and 

I. The first of these, in importance, if not in order of dis- 
cussion, was the question of Easter. It was the most ancient 
controversy in the Church. It was the only one which had 
come down from the time when the Jewish and Christian 
communities were indistinguishable. It was the only one 
which grew directly out of events in the Gospel history. Its 
very name (the " Quartodeciman, " the "Fourteenth-day," 
controversy) was derived, not from the Christian or Gentile, 
but the Jewish, calendar. The briefest statement of it will here 
suffice. Was the Christian Passover (for the word was still 
preserved, and by the introduction of the German word 
" Easter," we somewhat lose the force of the connection) to be 
celebrated on the same day as the Jewish, the fourteenth day 
of the month Nisan; or on the following Sunday? This 
was the fundamental question, branching out into others as 
the controversy became entangled with the more elaborate 
institution of the Christian fast of forty days, as also with the 
astronomical difficulties in the way of fixing its relations to the 
vernal equinox. On one side were the old, historical, aposto- 
lical traditions ; on the other side, the new, Christian, Catholic 
spirit, striving to part company with its ancient Jewish birth- 
place. The Eastern Church, at least in part, as was natural, 
took the former, the Western the latter, view. At the time 
when the Council was convened at Nicaea, the Judaic time was 
kept by- the Churches of Syria, Mesopotamia, Cilicia, and 
Proconsular Asia ; the Christian time by the Churches of 
the West, headed by Rome, and also, as it would seem, the 
Eastern Churches of Egypt, Greece, Palestine, and Pontus. 
It was a diversity of practice which probably shocked 
the Emperor's desire for uniformity almost as much as 
the diversity of doctrine. The Church appeared (this was the 


174 The Council of Nicaea 

expression of the time) " to go halting on one leg." 1 " The 
sight of some Churches fasting on the same day when others 
were rejoicing, and of two Passovers in one year, was against 
the very idea of Christian unity." " The celebration of it on 
the same day as was kept by the wicked race that put the 
Saviour to death was an impious absurdity." The first of these 
reasons determined that uniformity was to be enforced. The 
second determined that the older, or Jewish, practice must 
give way to the Christian innovation. 

i. We know nothing of the details of the debate. Probably 
the combined influence of the Churches of Rome and of 
Egypt, of Hosius and of Eusebius, backed by the authority of 
the Emperor, was too great for resistance. It was sometimes 
said afterwards that the Council had made the selection of the 
day a matter of principle. But this was not the case. The 
only principle which had really guided them was, that, in a matter 
of indifference, the minority must give way to the majority. 2 
In one point the form of the Decree on Easter agreed with 
that of the Creed ; no date was affixed. In another point it 
differed. Whereas the Creed was prefaced with the words, 
"So believes the Catholic Church," the Decree was pre- 
faced with the words, which are also found in Constantine's 
letter, 3 "It has been determined by common consent" (ISo^c 
Koivy yWy-n?), apparently to show that this was a matter of mere 
outward arrangement. And it was probably couched in this 
form in order to avoid the necessity of imposing penalties on 
those who were at first reluctant to give up their ancient 
customs. 4 

The Decree took more immediate and undisputed effect 
than the Creed. Arianism, as we have seen, lingered long, 
both in the Empire and in the surrounding nations. But the 
observance of Easter, from that time, was reduced to almost 
complete uniformity. Cilicia had already given way before 
the Decree was issued. Mesopotamia and Syria accepted the 
Decree at a solemn Council held at Antioch within twenty 
years. 5 

Three small sects, 6 indeed, in each of those provinces, still 

1 Ath. ad Afros, c. 5 : 

2 Soc. v. 22 (64) ; an admirable and instructive passage. 
8 Eus. V. C. iii. 18. 

4 See Ideler, Technische Chronologic, ii. 204. 5 Tillemont, vi. 666. 

6 The Novatians of Constantinople (Soc. v. 21), the Audians in Mesopo- 
tamia (Epiph. Hser. 70), the remaining Quartodecimans in Asia Minor 
{ib. 50). See Hefele, i. 320, 321. 

Conclusion of the Council 175 

maintained their protest against the innovation of the Nicene 
Council as late as the fifth century, almost after the fashion of 
the modern Dissenters of Russia ; abjuring the slightest inter- 
course with the established Churches which had made the 
change, and ascribing the adoption of the Nicene Decree to 
the influence of the Emperor Constantine, fixing the day to 
suit the Emperor's birthday, much as the corresponding 
communities in Russia ascribe the alterations l against which 
they protest, to the influence of Peter. But these were 
isolated exceptions. Through the rest of the Church the 
Jewish observance died out. Whatever subsequent troubles 
arose concerning the observance of Easter had no connection 
with this original diversity ; and the Nicene Council may fairly 
claim the credit of having extinguished at least one bitter 
controversy, which had once seemed interminable, and of 
laying down at least one rule, which is still observed in every 
Church, East and West, Protestant and Catholic. 

2. Even in details the mode of observance which still pre- 
vails was then first prescribed. Besides the original and more 
important question, whether the Paschal Feast should be 
observed on the Jewish or the Christian day, had arisen 
another question, occasioned by the difficulty of rightly 
adjusting the cycle of the lunar year ; from which it resulted 
that, even amongst those who followed the more general 
Christian practice, Easter was observed sometimes twice or 
three times, sometimes not at all. It was now determined, 
once for all, that the Sunday should be kept which fell most 
nearly after the full moon of the vernal equinox. For the 
facilitation of this observance two measures were taken ; one 
of which is remarkable as still guiding the calculations of 
Christendom, the other as having given rise to an important 
custom long since obsolete. 

What English child has not at odd moments turned over 
the leaves, of his Prayer-book to wonder at the table of the 
Golden Number, and the directions for finding Easter-day? 
That table first originated in the Council-chamber of Nicaea ; 
perhaps in the desire of the Emperor Constantine to soothe 
the wounded feelings of his favourite counsellor. When the 
task of adapting the cycle of the lunar year to the Paschal 
question was proposed, the Council would naturally turn to the 
most learned of its members to accomplish the work. This 

1 See Lecture XII. 

1 7 6 

The Council of Nicaea 

was unquestionably Eusebius of Caesarea. 1 He had paid 
special attention to chronology; and his general knowledge 
was such as, in the eyes of the historian Socrates, of itself to 
redeem the assembly from the charge of illiterate ignorance. 2 
He had just been sorely tried by the insertion of the un- 
welcome Homoousion into the Creed which he had proposed 
to the Council; he was probably suspected of having given 
but divided assent to the Creed as it now stood. It is 
creditable to the justice and the wisdom of the Council, that 
they should not have allowed their recent disputes and wide 
theological differences to stand in the way of intrusting this 
delicate task, as they must have thought it, to the man who on 
general grounds was most fitted to undertake it. 

He devoted himself to the work, and in the course of it 
composed an elaborate treatise on the Paschal Feast, which he 
presented to his Imperial master, who gratefully acknowledged 
it as a gigantic, almost inconceivable, enterprise; 3 and gave 
orders, that, if possible, it should be translated into Latin for 
the use of the Western Church. 

3. Whilst this work was preparing, and also for the sake of 
those whose arithmetical powers were unequal to the calculation 
which it might involve, the Council looked to another quarter 
for immediate and constant help. If Eusebius of Csesarea was 
the most learned individual at hand, the most learned body 
represented at Nicsea was the Church of Alexandria. It is 
interesting to see how the ancient wisdom of Egypt still 
maintained its fame even in Christian theology. By a direct 
succession, the Bishops of Alexandria had inherited the 
traditions of astronomical science, that first appear in the 
fourteenth century before the Christian era, on the painted 
ceilings of the temples of Thebes. On them, therefore, was 
imposed the duty 4 of determining the exact day for the 
celebration of each successive Easter ; and of announcing it 
for each following year, by special messengers sent immediately 
after the Feast of Epiphany, to all the towns and monasteries 
within their own jurisdiction, as well as to the Western Church 
through the Bishop of Rome, and to the Syrian Church 
through the Bishop of Antioch. 

So absolute was their authority in this matter, that even 

1 Tillemont, vi. 668. 2 See Lecture II. 

8 Eus. V. C. iv. 34, 35. 

* It had already existed as a custom. See Neale's Alexandrian Church, 
i. 68. 

Conclusion of the Council 177 

though they were certainly proved to have made erroneous 
calculations and fixed the festival wrongly, the Roman Bishop 
had no redress, except by appealing to the Emperor, and 
entreating him to admonish the Bishop of Alexandria to use 
more caution, and so to preserve the whole Christian Church 
from falling into error. The first result of this arrangement 
is known to us in the "Festal" or "Paschal" Letters of 
Athanasius, who succeeded to the see of Alexandria the year 
after the decision of the Council. From that year for a period 
of thirty years, these letters (preserved to our day by the 
most romantic series 1 of incidents in the history of ancient 
documents) exhibit to us the activity with which, amidst all his 
occupations, Athanasius carried out the order which he had 
heard, as a deacon, enjoined by the Council on his aged 
master Alexander. 

The Coptic Church still looks back with pride to the age 
when its jurisdiction was thus acknowledged by all Christian 
sees. Gradually the high position of the most learned of 
Churches has drifted to other regions. The Bishops of Rome, 
who once received from the Popes of Alexandria decrees 
unalterable even by the Roman see, in their turn became 
the depositaries of science, and in their turn accordingly 
reformed the calendar of the Christian world, and imposed it, 
gradually, but successfully, on the reluctant Churches, even of 
the Protestant confessions. And now the wave of learning in 
its onward movement has left Rome high and dry, as it had 
left Alexandria before ; and, if similar problems of mixed 
philosophy and religion have again to be imposed on the world 
by the most learned of its representatives, those representatives 
will now certainly not be found either in Italy or in Egypt. 2 

II. Another question which the Council had to settle was 
that of the Melitian 3 schism. "I have not leisure," says 
Gibbon, "to pursue the obscure controversy which seems to 
have been misrepresented by the partiality of Athanasius and 
the ignorance of Epiphanius." Every one who has looked 
into the matter will feel the force of this remark. But, as 

1 Dr. Cureton's Preface to "The Festal Letters of Athanasius." 

2 There is one point in regard to the settlement of the Paschal question, 
which seems entirely to have escaped the Nicene Fathers, but which 
probably, owing to their want of foresight, will, with each succeeding 
century, widen the divergence between civil and ecclesiastical usages. 
How many collisions and complications might have been avoided, had 
Easter been then, once for all, made a fixed, instead of a movable, festival 1 

8 MfXirios is the name in Athanasius, MeA?jTios in Epiphanius. 

1 7 8 

The Council of Nicaea 

there must have been a small knot of persons in the Council 
who were vehemently agitated by the question, we must briefly 
enter into its merits. 1 It began in one of those numerous 
difficulties belonging to a generation which at the time of the 
Council was passing away. We often hear it said that the 
period of persecution was a period of purity in the Church. 
This, unfortunately, must be taken with considerable reserv- 
ation. Whilst one class of evils was repressed, another class 
was provoked and aggravated. In the Christian world of the 
third century, a controversy arose out of the persecutions, 
which tended to embitter every relation of life, namely, the 
mode of treating those who, in a moment of weakness, had 
abjured or compromised their faith. No weapon of polemics, 
even in the Nicene Council itself, was so pointed as the charge 
or suspicion of having "lapsed." No allies were so important, 
even in the support of abstract theological or chronological 
speculations, as those who had " confessed " and suffered for 
the faith. The Novatian, the Donatist, and finally the Melitian 
schisms were so many phases of this excited feeling. Melitius 
was Bishop of Lycopolis (Osioot), the present capital of Upper 
Egypt. He had taken the severer view of the cases of the 
lapsed, whilst his episcopal brother of Alexandria, Peter, had 
leaned to the milder side. The quarrel had broken out in 
prison. Peter, stretching out his episcopal mantle like a sail, 
had caused his deacon to proclaim, "Those who are for 
me, let them come to me ; those who are for Melitius, to 
Melitius." Each set up his own Church and succession of 
Bishops. Peter's communion in Alexandria retained the title 
of the "Church Catholic." 2 Melitius's, in distinction, was 
styled the " Church of the Martyrs." His orthodoxy was un- 
doubted, and he had the credit of having first called attention 
to the heresy of Arius. He was probably one of those men 
who spend their lives in picking holes in the conduct or 
opinions of their neighbours, and who have so keen a scent 
for the weaknesses and the errors of others, that they never 
attend to their own. He became, with his following of in- 
dependent Bishops, the head of a Nonjuring community, a 
thorn in the side of the Bishops of Alexandria hardly less 

1 The three classes of documents on which this controversy rests are 
well set forth by Hefele, i, 337, 338. 

2 The word was here probably used in its more restricted sense of 
"parochial," "established," Church, See Pearson on the Creed (note 
on Art. 9). 

Conclusion of the Council 179 

vexatious than Arius ; and as years rolled on, and as increasing 
troubles made strange bedfellows, the Melitian schismatics and 
the Arian heretics, 1 once deadly enemies, became sworn allies 
against their common enemy Athanasius. 

This, however, was still far in the distance. The Council 
had to decide only on the facts of the case as they then were. 
They were gifted neither with the divine insight into coming 
events, which could have enabled them to anticipate the 
future, nor with the wicked desire to push to their possible 
extremities all the tendencies of an innocent sect. They acted 
according to what at the time appeared the dictates of charity 
and prudence, and if, during the next thirty years, their judg- 
ment might seem to have been a mistake, by the end of the 
next century the total extinction of the sect ratified its real 
and permanent wisdom. Melitius was to retain his title and 
rank in his own city, but not to ordain. Those ordained by 
him were to resume their functions after a second ordination, 
and to take their places below those ordained by the Bishop 
of Alexandria. Any future ordinations were to be made with 
the consent of the same authority. 2 

Melitius and his party belong to that prying, meddlesome, 
intolerant class, who least of all men have a right to claim 
toleration at the hands of their opponents or at the hands of 
posterity. Yet even characters such as these must receive the 
just allowance which they deny to others; and we may well 
admire the liberal treatment which they received from the 
Council of Nicaea. By what means it was brought about we 
know not. But we cannot err in supposing that it was agree- 
able to the general temper of Constantine ; and we may also 
conjecture that it was accelerated by the general respect for 
the venerable confessor Paphnutius, himself an adherent of the 
Melitian party. 

One person present must have been deeply mortified by this 
result. Athanasius, who up to this point had carried all before 
him, now saw a blow aimed at the supremacy of the see of 
Alexandria, which, both as the archdeacon of its Bishop, and 
the champion of its faith, he had so strenuously defended. 
Afterwards, if not at the time, he revenged himself by the 
taunt, 3 which we now know to be the reverse of the truth, that 
Melitius had compromised himself by compliance with heathen 

1 It is said, however, that before this (Epiph. Haer. 69) Theonas had 
been appointed by Melitius. 

2 Soc. i. 9. 3 See Hefele, i. 331. 

180 The Council of Nicaea 

sacrifices : " O that Melitius had never been received by the 
Church ! By some means or other," he says, with an un- 
mistakable bitterness, 1 "the Melitians were received, but the 
reason I need not tell." He was clearly in a minority in 
the Council. However much in his later life we may rejoice 
that Athanasius stood firm against the world, we may fairly 
rejoice that on this occasion Athanasius stood alone against 
the Church, and that the Church stood and prevailed against 

III. The main grievances of the Christian world, all more 
or less connected with the Church of Egypt, had been remedied. 
There still remained the correction of abuses such as have ever 
since occupied, in name at least, the chief attention of every 
General Council. Little as is the notice that these regulations 
attract, compared with the special controversies which called 
the Council together, they have a peculiar interest of their 
own. They give us an insight into the customs and morals of 
the age ; and the extent to which they are observed or neglected 
now, gives us a measure of the nearness or of the distance of 
our relations to the Council. 

The Apocryphal Canons of Nicsea fill forty books. They 
are translated into Arabic, and are received by the Eastern 
Church as binding with the validity of Imperial laws. They 
are, in fact, a collection of all the customs and canons of the 
Oriental Church, ascribed to the Nicene Council, as all good 
English customs to Alfred. 2 But the authentic Canons are 
only twenty in number, filling only three or four pages. There 
are, indeed, a few points mentioned in connection with the 
Council which are not contained in these Canons. Four such 
usages are thus cited by the writers of the next two generations, 
namely : the injunction to offer the Eucharist fasting ; the per- 
mission of appeal from episcopal jurisdiction to the higher 
"apostolical" sees; the revision of the decrees of former 
Councils by those that followed; the prohibition of second 
marriage to the clergy, and of two bishops in the same see. 8 

According to an old tradition, the Canon of Scripture was 
now fixed. The Canonical and the Apocryphal books were 
placed together near the Holy Table, with a prayer that the 
canonical might be found above, and the others below. 4 This 
was no doubt a mere popular representation. It is a mark of 

1 Athan. Apol. c. Arian, 58, 71. 2 Hefele, i. 344-350. 

8 See the question discussed, Mansi, ii. 734 ; Broglie, ii. 428. 
4 Mansi, ii. 749. 

Conclusion of the Council 181 

the wisdom of the Nicene, and indeed of all the early Councils, 
that they never ventured to define the limits of the sacred 
books. But that some discussion on the subject took place, 
may be inferred from Jerome's belief 1 that the Book of Judith 
was there and then recognised as canonical. Such a recognition, 
or even the belief in such a recognition, probably had great 
weight in determining for many centuries the reception of that 
most doubtful of all the Apocryphal writings. Nor has its 
reception been barren of results. It has answered the purpose 
of opening the minds of thoughtful theologians in the Church 
of Rome to the shades and degrees of canonicity and inspiration. 
In France, its perusal as a sacred book nerved the hand of 
Charlotte Corday to the assassination of Marat. 

From these doubtful points we proceed to the consideration 
of the twenty Canons, so far as they bear on the history of the 

They may be divided, for convenience, into four groups : 

i. Those which relate to clerical jurisdiction bring out, more 
forcibly perhaps than any others, the inequality of observance 
which those ancient decrees have received. They are the 4th, 
5th, 6th, yth, 1 5th, i6th, and i8th. 

The fifth Canon breathes an air of ante-Nicene simplicity. 
It is intended to act as a check on the tyranny of individual 
Bishops, to guard against the unjust exclusion of any one from 
the Church through the party spirit (<iJWei/aa), or the narrow- 
mindedness (fUKpoi/a>x*.), or the personal dislike (d^oYa), of the 
Bishop of any particular diocese. To remedy this, all questions 
of excommunication are to be discussed in Provincial Councils 
to be held twice a year, once in the autumn, once before 
Easter, in order that the offerings at the Easter communion 
might be made with good consciences and good will towards 
each other. The whole of this machinery has necessarily 
passed away. 2 But the Decree renders a striking testimony to 
the care with which the rights of individuals were guarded, and 
to the belief in the ancient Evangelical doctrine of forbearance 
and forgiveness. 

The fourth Canon is still observed through the greater 
part of Christendom. It enjoined that, at the consecration 
(" ordination," as it was then termed) of a Bishop, no less than 

1 Epist. iii. 

3 An atfempt to revive "this pearl of reformatory decrees," as it has 
been called, was made in the Council of Basle. See the Life of Cardinal 
Julian, by the Rev. R. Jenkins, p. 227. 

1 82 The Council of Nicaea 

three Bishops should be concerned, as representing the absent 
Bishops of the province, who might be detained by pressing 
business or the length of the journey. On the observance of 
this Canon in the consecration of Archbishop Parker of Canter- 
bury, on its neglect in the consecration of Archbishop Petersen 
of Upsala, depends the different degree of validity and regularity 
which is attached by scrupulous churchmen to the orders of 
the Church of England and of the Church of Sweden. 

The 6th, ;th, i5th, and i8th Canons, could we but look 
under their surface, each probably represents a fierce debate, 
in which we almost seem to see the very combatants engaged. 
The two highest dignitaries in the Council were Alexander 
of Alexandria, and Eustathius of Antioch. The jurisdiction of 
the former had been assailed, as we have seen, by Melitius. 
It was this, probably, which led to the sixth Canon, confirming 
to him and to his brother Metropolitans whatever ancient 
privileges they had possessed over the Bishops in their re- 
spective provinces. In this Canon we see the first germ of 
the yet undeveloped Patriarchates of the East ; and, in the one 
precedent selected for such a jurisdiction, we see the organisa- 
tion already formed of what was to become the Patriarchate of 
the West. "This," the Council says, "is to be laid down as 
is the custom in the parallel case of the Bishop of Rome" 1 

In later times, and especially at the Council of Chalcedon, 
this decree was made the ground of exalting the primacy of 
the Roman see above that of Constantinople, which of course 
had not been mentioned at Nicsea. But it is a remarkable 
instance of the cautious and deliberate spirit of the Nicene 
Council that the settlement of the jurisdiction refers to no 
grounds, historical or doctrinal, for its decision, but simply 
appeals to established usages in words which have since become 
almost proverbial, "Let ancient customs prevail," (TO, a 

This confirmation, limited as it was, of long prestige, 
naturally led to a claim on the part of another see, which 
was itself soon to aspire to an equality with the others, but now 
only sought a humble recognition of its former grandeur. 
The seventh Canon ran thus, and it discloses a slight passage 
at arms between Eusebius of Caesarea and Macarius of 

1 Rufinus (i. 6) adds: "ut vel ille ^Egypti, vel hie suburbicariarum 
ecclesiarum solicitudinem gerat." By "suburbicariarum " were meant the 
churches of the Italian prefecture, specially under the vicariate of Rome, 
viz. Southern Italy and the islands. Greenwood, 1. 188. 

Conclusion of the Council 183 

Capitolina, not yet " Jerusalem : " " As custom and ancient 
tradition have obtained that the Bishop of ^Elia should be 
honoured, let him bear his proper honour," so far Macarius 
gained his point, but (and here we cannot mistake the inter- 
vention of his superior, the Metropolitan of Csesarea,) "always 
saving the rights of the Metropolitan." So closely was the 
ecclesiastical organisation framed on the arrangements of the 
Empire, that even the parent Church of Christendom could 
not take precedence, even in the Holy Land, of the merely 
secular seat of the Roman government. It was the same spirit 
which guided William the Conqueror in his selection of the 
Norman fortresses, rather than the Saxon sanctuaries, as the 
sees of the Bishoprics of England. But in this case we catch 
the relation of the sees of Csesarea and Jerusalem on the very 
edge of their turn. Before another ten years, ^Elia Capitolina 
had not only become Jerusalem, but the Holy Sepulchre had 
been discovered, and Macarius was more than compensated 
for any concessions he may have made to Eusebius at Nicsea ; 
and by the next century his see had become a patriarchate, 
while Csesarea remained an inferior bishopric. 

The fifteenth Canon struck at a custom which prevailed, as 
it would seem, largely even at that early time, and which, in 
spite of this canon, was continued, and probably will continue 
as long as the Church itself. It prohibits absolutely the 
translation of any Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon, from one city 
to another. There were at least two high personages in the 
Council, who must have winced under this decree, the 
orthodox Eustathius of Antioch l and the heterodox Eusebius 
of Nicomedia. But they would have had their revenge if they 
could have seen how soon the decree would have spent its 
force. Eusebius himself, who had subscribed this very decree, 
was translated a few years afterwards from Nicomedia to 
Constantinople, 2 and it was thought so heroic a virtue in 
Eusebius of Csesarea to have declined a translation to the see 
of Antioch, that Constantine declared him in consequence fit 
to be a Bishop, not of a single city, but of the whole world. 3 
By the close of the century it was set aside as if it had never 
existed, and there is probably no Church in Europe in which 
the convenience or the ambition of men has not proved too 
strong for its adoption. If the translation of Bishops has now 

1 Eustathius had been translated from Berrhoea, and Eusebius from 
Berytus. See Hefele, i. 404. 

2 Theod. i. 19. 3 Soz. ii. 19. 

1 84 

The Council of Nicsea 

become the exception, yet the translation, the promotion, of 
Presbyters and Deacons from place to place, has been so 
common as to escape all notice. 

The eighteenth Canon, on the other hand, touches an evil 
which has vanished, and hardly left a trace behind. Later 
ages have been accustomed to the domination of Popes, 
Bishops, Presbyters. But the Church of the Nicene age was 
vexed with the peculiar presumption of the order of Deacons. 
Being usually the confidential attendants of the Bishops, they 
were in the habit i of taking their place among the Presbyters, 
and of receiving the Eucharist even before the Bishops them- 
selves. This the Council of Nicsea strongly reproves, and 
glances at certain places and cities where the reproof was 
specially needed. One young Deacon, we know, there was 
present in the Council, whose prominent activity on this 
occasion provoked the envy of many of his superiors. But it 
is probable that the place specially alluded to was not Alex- 
andria, but Rome. The Bishop Sylvester, as we have seen, 
was absent. But his two Presbyters, Victor and Vincentius, 
were present. We learn from Jerome how the Roman 
Deacons took especial advantage of their master's dignity to 
lord it over the Roman Presbyters, and it is not too much to 
suppose that the two aggrieved Presbyters took the opportunity 
of urging what in the Bishop's presence would have been un- 
necessary or inexpedient. 

2. One regulation alone, the twentieth Canon, related to 
worship : that which enjoins that on every Sunday, and in 
daily worship between Easter and Pentecost, the devotions 
of the people shall be performed standing. Kneeling is for- 
bidden. The almost universal violation of this Canon in 
Western Churches, at the present day, illustrates our remote- 
ness from the time and country of the Nicene Fathers. To 
pray standing was, in public worship, believed to have been 
an apostolical usage. It is still the universal practice in the 
Eastern Church, not only on Sundays, but week-days. But 
in the West kneeling has gradually taken its place; and the 
Presbyterians of Scotland, and at times the Lutherans of 
Germany, are probably the only Occidental Christians who 
now observe the one only rubric l laid down for Christian worship 
by the First CEcumenical Council. 

3. The Canons which relate to the manners and morals of 

1 Rufinus (i. 6) omits it. 

Conclusion of the Council 185 

the clergy naturally carry us back to evils long extinct. But 
they are all distinguished by a remarkable prudence and 
moderation; namely, the ist, 2nd, 3rd, and ryth. 

The ist is aimed against acts * of excessive asceticism, 
which had led to scandalous consequences. The 2nd re- 
strains the rapid transition of converts from heathenism to 
baptism, and from baptism to ordination. The ryth, with 
the strong feeling of those times against usury, forbids the 
clergy to make money by exorbitant interest. The 3rd Canon 
guarded against the scandals which might arise from the 
ancient practice of the intimate companionship of the clergy 
with religious ladies. 2 " No Bishop, no Presbyter, no Deacon, 
no one holding any clerical office, is to have with him a 
woman of this kind, unless it be his mother, sister, or aunt, 
or such persons as are entirely beyond suspicion." But con- 
nected with this decree was an abortive attempt, which 
discloses to us one of the most interesting scenes of the 
Council. A proposition was made, enjoining that all married 
clergy (according to one report, including even sub-deacons) 
were to separate from their wives. It was in substance 
the same measure that was afterwards proposed and carried 
in the Spanish Council of Illiberis, and it is therefore not 
improbable that it was brought forward on this occasion 
by the great Hosius. It was also, we are told, supported by 
Eustathius of Antioch. 3 But every distinguished member of 
the Council in turn seems to have met with a rebuff. The 
opposition came from a most unexpected quarter. From 
amongst the Egyptian Bishops stepped out into their midst, 
looking out of his one remaining eye, and halting on his 
paralysed leg, the old hermit-confessor, Paphnutius or Paph- 
nute. With a roar of indignation rather than with a speech, 4 
he broke into the debate : " Lay not this heavy yoke on the 
clergy. ' Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled.' 
By exaggerated strictness you will do the Church more harm 
than good. All cannot bear such an ascetic rule. The wives 
themselves will suffer from it. Marriage itself is continence. 
It is enough for a man to be kept from marriage after he has 
been ordained, according to the ancient 5 custom ; but do not 

1 See Bingham, xiii. 8 ; Beveridge, Synod, ad 1. note 44 ; Athan. 
Tracts, ed. Newman, ii. 250-252. 

2 ffvvfiffdKrai, also called ayair^Tal. See Bingham, vi. 2, 13. 
8 Synod. Gangr. 4. (Hefele, i. 417.) 

4 Soc. i. ii : l&6a fidKpa. 5 Apost. Const, vi. 17. 

1 86 The Council of Nicaea 

separate him from the wife whom once for all he married when 
he was still a layman." His speech produced a profound 
sensation. 1 His own austere life of unblemished celibacy gave 
force to every word that he uttered ; he showed that rare 
excellence of appreciating difficulties which he himself did not 
feel, and of honouring a state of life which was not his own. 
He has been rewarded by the gratitude of the whole Eastern 
Church, which still, according to the rule which he proposed, 
allows and now almost enjoins marriage on all its clergy before 
ordination, without permitting it afterwards. 2 The Latin Church 
has rushed into the opposite extreme ; but, owing to Paphnute's 
victory, must have been conscious from the first that it was 
acting in defiance of the well-known intention of the Fathers of 
Nicsea. The story has been denied, and explained away. 
Even the candid French layman who has last written the 
account of the Council throws it into an appendix. 3 As early 
as the fifth century it is omitted in the one Latin historian of 
these events. But its authenticity is beyond dispute; 4 and 
even in the West the wise Egyptian hermit has not been for- 
gotten. An aged Cardinal, at the Council of Basle 5 (though, 
unfortunately, with less success than Paphnutius), expressed 
himself so nearly in the same way that we can hardly help 
supposing a reminiscence of this incident. Yet later, in the 
reign of Mary, when Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, was tried 
before the Bishops of London, Winchester, Durham, Llandaif, 
and Chichester, and the question of the marriage of priests was 
discussed, " My Lord Chancellor and many with him cried out 
that Master Hooper had never read the Councils. ' Yes, my 
Lord,' quoth Hooper, 'and my Lord of Chichester, to-day, 
knoweth that the great Council of Nice, by the means of one 
Paphnutius, decreed that no minister should be separated from 
his wife.' But such clamour and cries were used, that the 
Council of Nice was not seen." 6 

1 James of Nisibis (if his Sermons are genuine) took the same view, 
Serm. xviii. s. 9, 383. (Routh, Opusc. i. 403.) 

2 It was an Egyptian tradition that the decree was carried so far as 
related to Bishops, the separation having been previously enforced in regard 
to Patriarchs ; who, however, did not exist till long after the Council. 
Eutych. Ann. 450. 

3 Broglie, ii. 430. 

4 For the arguments against the genuineness of the story, and a candid 
and complete refutation of them, see Hefele, i. 417. 

5 Milman's Latin Christianity, vi. 260. 

6 Foxe (Wordsworth, Eccl. Biog. ii. 452). 

Conclusion of the Council 187 

4. The remaining decrees for the most part sprang from the 
same agitations as those which had produced the Melitian 
schism. They were the settlements of cases of conscience 
which arose in dealing with those who had given way in the 
recent persecutions. They remind us that we are still on the 
border land between the persecuted and the established age of 
the Church. They steer for the most part the same middle 
course, as in the case of the Melitians. On the one hand, the 
offenders are rigidly excluded from the clerical office, yet 
gently admitted to communion. On the other hand, the 
austere Puritan or Novatian sectaries, who, like the Melitians, 
had separated from the Church rather than communicate with 
their fallen brethren, are allowed to re-enter the Church 
with re-ordination, or even to retain their orders in remote 
cities and villages. 

In this decree we can dimly discern two characters of the 
Council on opposite sides. One is Acesius, 1 who was then a 
Bishop of the Novatians, and who would doubtless defend the 
interests of his sect. The other is Hypatius of Gangra. He 
was probably a vehement opponent of the Novatians ; for, 
many years afterwards, he was attacked by a gang of Novatian 
ruffians, in a pass near Gangra, and pelted and stoned to death. 2 
The incident is curious, as showing the savage character of 
the sect. But, on this occasion, the modified reception of the 
Novatians by the Council may be considered as its final act of 
toleration. As every rule admits of an exception, so even the 
general amnesty of the Council (in the igth Canon) excepted 
from the general favour the small sect of the disciples of Paul 
of Samosata. "Synodus Nicaena," says Jerome, in his argu- 
ment against the Luciferians, 3 " omnes haereticos suscepit praeter 
Pauli Samosateni discipulos." 

The Council had now completed its labours. The settle- 
ment of the Arian and the Paschal controversies was embodied 
in a letter of the Emperor to the Churches generally. The 
settlement of the Melitian controversy was expressed in a letter 
of the Council to the Church of Egypt. The Creed and the 
twenty Canons were written in a volume, and again subscribed 
by all the Bishops. Some singular legends adorn this stage 
of the proceedings. It was believed in later times 4 that two of 
the 318 Bishops, Chrysanthus and Mysonius, who had entirely 
concurred in the views of the Council, had died before the 

1 See Lecture III. 2 Menolog. March 31. 

8 c. 26. 4 Niceph. H. E. viii. 23. 

1 88 The Council of Nicaea 

close of its sessions, and been buried in the cemetery of Nicaea. 
When the day for the final subscription arrived, the Bishops 
took the volume to the grave of the two dead men, addressed 
them, as Mussulmans still address their dead saints, and 
solemnly conjured them, that, if now in the clearness of the 
Divine Presence they still approved, they would come and sign 
with their brethren the decrees of the Faith. They then sealed 
the volume, and laid it on the tomb, leaving blank spaces for 
the signatures, watched in prayer all night, and returned in the 
morning, when, on breaking the seal, they found the two sub- 
scriptions, "We, Chrysanthus and Mysonius, fully concurring 
with the first Holy and (Ecumenical Synod, although removed 
from earth, have signed the volume with our own hands.' ; A 
bolder attempt to give a supernatural sanction to the decrees 
was retained in another story, 1 preserved in the Alexandrian 
Church, as derived from the courtiers of the Palace. " When 
the Bishops took their places on their thrones, they were 318 ; 
when they rose up to be called over, it appeared that they were 
319 ; so that they never could make the number come right, 
and whenever they approached the last of the series, he imme- 
diately turned into the likeness of his next neighbour." This 
truly Oriental legend expresses, in a daring figure, what was 
undoubtedly the belief of the next generation of the Church, 
that the Holy Spirit had been present to guide their deliberations 

We return to the actual history. The Emperor had now 
accomplished his wish. The three controversies had been extin- 
guished. The Christian world, as he hoped, had been reduced 
to peace and uniformity. The twentieth anniversary of his 
accession was come round. The 25th of July, celebrated 
throughout the Empire with games and festivities, was appointed 
by hini for a solemn banquet to the assembled Bishops. Not 
one was missing. The sight exceeded all expectation. The 
Imperial guards, who had not entered the chamber where 
the Council had been assembled, were now drawn up round the 
vestibule of the Palace with their swords drawn. The Bishops, 
many of whom had only seen the bare steel of the Roman 
swords in the hands of their executioners and torturers, might 
well have started at the sight. Eusebius thinks it necessary to 
tell us that they passed through the midst of them without any 
signs of fear, and reached the room prepared for their reception, 

1 Spicil. Solesm. i. 523. 

Conclusion of the Council 189 

apparently the same as that in which they had met for debate. 
Instead of the seats and benches, couches or chairs or mattings 1 
were placed along each side ; and in the midst was a table for 
the Emperor, with a favoured few. " It might have seemed," 
says Eusebius, who no doubt was one of these, " the likeness of 
the kingdom of Christ the fancy of a dream, rather than a 
waking reality." The Emperor himself presided, and, as the 
feast went on, called to him one Bishop after another, and 
loaded each with gifts, in proportion to his deserts. Three are 
specially named, as marked out for peculiar honour. James of 
Nisibis (so ran the Eastern tale 2 ) saw angels standing round 
the Emperor, and underneath his purple 3 robe discovered a 
sackcloth garment. Constantine, in return, saw angels minister- 
ing to James, placed his seat above the other Bishops, and 
said : " There are three pillars of the world, Antony in Egypt, 
Nicolas of Myra, James in Assyria." The two other incidents 
are as certainly historical, as this is legendary. Paphnutius was 
lodged in the Palace. The Emperor had often sent for him to 
hear his stories of the persecution ; and now it was remarked 
how he threw his arms round the old man, and put his lips to 
his eyeless socket, as if to suck out with his reverential kiss the 
blessing which, as it were, lurked in the sacred cavity, 4 and 
stroke down with his Imperial touch 5 the frightful wound; 
how he pressed his legs and arms and royal purple to the 
paralysed limbs, and put his own eyeball into the socket. 
Acesius, the Novatian, too, had come at Constantine's special 
request ; in the hope, no doubt, that the genial atmosphere of 
the Council would soften his prejudices against the Established 
Church of the Empire. It was probably on the occasion of 
this banquet that the dialogue took place which was reported 
to the historian Socrates by the eye-witness Auxano. " Well," 
said the Emperor, "do you agree with the Creed and the 
settlement of the Paschal question ? " " There is nothing new, 
your Majesty," replied Acesius, " in the decisions of the Council, 
for it is thus that from the beginning, and from the apostolical 
times, I have received both the definition of the faith, and the 

1 Theod. i. 10. 2 Biblioth. Patr. p. civ. 

3 See Lecture IV. p. 148. 

4 Theodoret (i. 10) speaks of the Emperor doing this to all who had lost 
their right eye ; but Rufinus (i. 4) and Socrates (i. n) fix it specially to 
Paphnutius. Gregory of Csesarea (De Pat. Nic. 316) names the banquet, 
but extends it to all. 

* Ruf. i. 4. 

190 The Council of Nicaea 

time of the Paschal Feast." " Why, then," said the Emperor, 
"do you still remain separate from the communion of the 
Church ? " The old dissenter could not part with his griev- 
ance ; he entrenched himself within his unfailing argument ; he 
poured forth an animated description of the doings in the 
Decian persecution, and of the strictness of primitive times, 
which the Church had surrendered. " None," he said, " who 
after baptism have sinned the sin, which the Divine Scriptures 
call the sin unto death, have a right to partake in the Divine 
mysteries. They ought to be moved to perpetual repentance. 
The priests have no power to forgive them ; only God, who 
alone has the right to pardon sins." So spoke the true ancestor 
of the Puritans of all ages, the true mouthpiece of that narrow 
spirit, which thinks itself entitled to pronounce on the sins 
which can never be forgiven ; which makes a show of charity 
in delivering over its adversaries to what are called, as if in 
bitter irony, the uncovenanted mercies of God. The Emperor, 
for once, was not overawed. His natural common sense came 
to the rescue. He replied, with that short dry humour which 
stamps the saying as authentic : " Ho ! ho ! Acesius ; plant a 
ladder, and climb up into heaven by youjrself." x 

These are the last actual words which we have from the 
Emperor on this solemn occasion, so characteristic, so full of 
instruction for the Puritans and sectarians of all times, that we 
might well take leave of him with those words on his lips. But 
quite in accordance with their general spirit is the farewell 
speech, of which the substance only has been preserved to us, 
made by him to the assembled Bishops, on one of the days 
immediately before their departure. As they stood in his 
presence, he renewed, with the additional experience which the 
last month had afforded, his exhortations to mutual peace. 
" Let them avoid their bitter party strifes [here, no doubt, he 
looked at the deputation from Alexandria] ; let them not envy 
any one distinguished amongst the Bishops for wisdom [here 
he would glance alternately at the detractors of Athanasius and 
of his own Eusebius] ; but regard the merit of every single 
individual as common property. Let not those who were 
superior look down on their inferiors [here a look at Acesius]. 
God only could judge who were really superior. Perfection 
was rare everywhere, and therefore all allowance must be made 
for the weaker brethren [here a glance of commendation to 

1 Soc. i. 10. 

Conclusion of the Council 191 

Paphnutius] ; slight matters must be forgiven ; human infirmi- 
ties allowed for ; concord prized above all else. Factions only 
caused the enemies of the faith to blaspheme. In all ways 
unbelievers must be saved. It was not every one who would 
be converted by learning and reasoning [here he may have 
turned to Spyridion and the philosopher]. Some join us from 
desire of maintenance [this he said in accordance with a well- 
known principle which he was wont to commend] ; some for 
preferment ; some for presents : nothing is so rare as a real 
lover of truth. We must be like physicians, and accommodate 
our medicines to the diseases, our teaching to the different 
minds of all." l Finally, he begged their earnest prayers to 
Heaven for himself ; and dismissed them on their journey to 
their several homes with letters to all the provinces through 
which they passed, with the injunction to celebrate his own 
twentieth year by liberal support to the returning prelates. He 
also ordered that in every city a yearly allowance of provisions 
should be made for the widows and nuns, and other sacred 
ministers. This endowment lasted, though in a diminished 
amount, to the middle of the fifth century. 2 

Another decree ordered that corn should be exported to those 
countries where it was rare, for the purpose of the sacramental 
elements. This led afterwards to violent recriminations between 
the Arians and Athanasius, as the head of the great corn-country 
of Egypt. 3 

Before the end of August, Nicaea was restored to its former 
state, but the fame of the Council still lingered on the spot. 
It was said that they had met for the last time in a building in 
the centre of the town probably the same as that which had 
received them on their first arrival to pray for their own safe 
return, and for the welfare of the city. Tradition pointed out a 
spring, which was believed to have sprung up in consequence in 
the centre of the apse. 4 When the Arians held a synod at Nice 
in Thrace, it was in the hope that under the common name of 
the Nicene Creed their own views might receive a better recep- 
tion. 5 When the Fourth General Council was summoned, it 

1 Bus. V.'C. 321. 

2 It was suspended by Julian, and reduced to one third by Jovian. 
Theod. i. n. 

3 See Lecture VII., and Tillemont, viii. 32. 

4 Greg. Caes. 365. For the supposed inspiration of these parting 
prayers and acclamations, see Sarpi's History of the Council of Trent, 
ii. 747- 

6 Soc. ii. 29. See Mansi, ii. 727. 

192 The Council of Nicaea 

had been the Emperor Marcian's first wish to have it, not at 
Chalcedon, but within the sacred walls of Nicsea. The last 
Council which has been acknowledged as oecumenical both by 
the Greek and the Latin Church received no doubt additional 
weight from its being held at Nicsea, the scene of the first and 
greatest of them all. It was supposed to have given the city 
impregnable strength when attacked by the Persians. When a 
prisoner was taken who came from Nicaea, it was a security for 
his being well treated by his captors. 1 

The prelates returned, as they went, at the public expense. 
Some, it is said, 2 were specially commissioned to carry the 
decrees of the Council to the different provinces of the Empire. 
The only reception of which any detailed mention is preserved, 
is that in the Armenian Church. Aristaces is said to have met 
his father Gregory and King Tiridates at Velasabata, and 
delivered to them the Nicene Canons. 3 To these Gregory 
added a few rules, and then retired into a mountain cave, and 
never appeared again, leaving the diocese to Aristaces. The 
hymn of praise said to have been used on occasion of this event 
is still preserved in the Armenian Church : 4 " We glorify Him 
who was before all ages, adoring the Holy Trinity, and the one 
only Divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, now 
and ever, through ages of ages. Amen." 

The day celebrated in the different Churches as the anniver- 
sary of the Council was probably that on which these decrees 
and letters were published. 

Two legends, characteristic of the Churches of the East and 
West, mark the interest which each attached to the reception of 
these decrees. When they arrived at Rome, so runs the Latin 
story, Sylvester convened, with Constantine's consent, another 
Council of 277 Bishops, in which the Nicene decrees were 
enforced by the Pope's authority, and in which a number of 
minute regulations were inserted, descending even to the 
material of which the dress of Roman deacons was to be 
made. 5 It is one of the fables by which the Roman Church 
has endeavoured to establish a precedent for its authority over 

1 Tillemont, vi. 287. The Council, afterwards divided into the two 
of Ariminum and Seleucia, was to have met at Nicsea. Theod. ii. 26 ; 
Soz. iv. 16. 

2 The names are given in Photius, Biblioth. 471 j Gelas. iii. 27. 

3 Moses Choren. ii. 87, 88. 

4 I am glad to refer for this quotation to the compendious but learned 
History of the Fourth Century, by the Rev. W. Bright, p. 27. 

6 Anast. Vit. Pont. p. 36. 

Conclusion of the Council 193 

Councils, as the like fables of the Donation of Constantine, and 
the false Decretals, were intended to establish its authority over 
princes and kingdoms. Like all such fables it recoils on its 
framers. The best proof that no such authority existed is the 
necessity of so manifest a fiction to supply the place of facts. 

The Eastern legend is far more pleasing, and may possibly 
have some slight foundation of truth. Before the Bishops 
finally left Nicsea, Constantine, it was said, announced that he 
had one favour to beg. They granted it. It was that they 
would return with him to Byzantium to see Metrophanes, the 
aged Bishop of that city, whom he called his father ; and to 
bless by their presence the new city which he was about to 
found. 1 They came ; and on the Sunday they met both the 
Emperor and the Bishop of the future capital of the Eastern 
Church. The Emperor then adjured the aged prelate to name 
his successor. Metrophanes replied, with a smiling countenance, 
that a week since it had been intimated to him in a dream, how 
ten days from that time his end would come, and he accordingly 
named Alexander of Byzantium his successor, and the boy 
Paul 2 to be the successor of Alexander. Then turning to the 
Bishop of Alexandria : " You too, my brother," he said, " shall 
have a good successor." And, taking the young deacon 
Athanasius by the hand: "Behold," said he, "the noble 
champion of Christ ! Many conflicts will he sustain, in 
company not only with my successor Alexander, but even with 
my next successor Paul." With these words he laid his pall on 
the Holy Table for Alexander to take ; and in seven days after- 
wards, on the 4th of June, expired in his nyth year. Such, 
according to the Byzantine tradition, was the inauguration of 
the next two great events of Eastern ecclesiastical history, the 
Foundation of the City and Church of Constantine, and the 
Commencement of the Pontificate of Athanasius. 

So ended the Council of Nicaea. There remain some general 
inferences to be deduced from this detailed account of its 

i. Fragmentary as the narrative has been, every one must 
have observed how various are the incidents that it embraces. 
Every party has had its turn ; every one, as the story has gone 
on, must have heard something, I trust, congenial to his own 
predilections ; something also, I trust, which has been distasteful. 

1 "Which he had founded," is the version in Photius. "To make it 
a patriarchal city," Hist, of Alex. Patr. 79. 

2 See Lecture III. p. 136. 


194 The Council of Nicaea 

This is as it should be. This it is which makes us sure that we 
are reading, not a mere conventional legend, but a real chapter 
of human life ; grave and gay, high motives and low, wise sayings 
and foolish. This also makes us feel that we are still far back 
in the first ages of the history of the Church. The elements of 
thought and feeling which at Ephesus, at Chalcedon, at the 
Second Council of Nicaea, at Florence, or at Trent, are narrowed 
into a single channel, or excluded altogether, are here all 
blended in one mixed stream. Every Church feels that it has 
some standing-place in the Council Chamber at Nicaea. In this 
the highest sense, the Council was truly (Ecumenical. 

2. It is impossible not to notice the powerful influence 
exercised over the results of the Council by personal character. 
Take away Constantine, Athanasius, Eusebius of Caesarea, 
Hosius, Paphnutius, and how materially its conclusions would 
have varied ! It is a truth enforced upon us both by history 
and experience, yet often put aside by theological speculations 
in former days, and by philosophical speculations in the present. 

3. I have before spoken of the advantage of contrasting the 
later apocryphal representations of the Council with the earlier 
ones. We have now seen what the contrasts are. The pro- 
fusion of miraculous portents, fanciful legends, and rhetorical 
exaggerations in the later versions, sets off the simplicity and 
the vividness of the old accounts. The claims of the Roman 
Church, which occupy so large a space in the later Roman 
annals, have no place in the true contemporary accounts of the 
Council. In the descriptions of Eusebius and Athanasius, the 
Bishop of Rome is an old man kept away by illness, who would 
have had a high, perhaps the highest, place, as Bishop of the 
capital city, if he had been there. This is all. The later 
additions represent the Council as convened by him, its decrees 
as confirmed by him, and a separate Council as convoked 
by him at Rome to receive them. By the difference between 
the two statements, we can judge of the difference between the 
earlier and the later systems. Again, in the earlier accounts, 
the heathen philosophers are attracted by curiosity; in the 
later, they are hired by the Arians : in the earlier, the mutual 
complaints are made by the Orthodox Bishops ; in the later, 
they are made by the Arians. By the difference between the 
two accounts, we can judge of the growth of theological calumny. 

4. Finally, let me briefly touch on the settlement of the 
general controversies which gave occasion to the Council's 
convention. They may have seemed, perhaps, a wearisome 

Conclusion of the Council 195 

study, but they still leave solid lessons and truths behind. 
" Old religious factions," says Burke, " are volcanoes burnt out : 
on the lava and ashes and squalid scoriae of extinct eruptions, 
grow the peaceful olive, the cheering vine, and the sustaining 
corn." Most true is this in the present instance. The Eastern 
Creed of Nicsea, indeed, as compared with that of the Western 
Church, commonly called the Apostles', is a controversial and 
elaborate composition ; and we may justly rejoice that it is the 
Apostles' Creed, rather than the Nicene, which has been chosen 
by the English Church as its one test of membership and 
communion. But as compared with almost all subsequent 
Creeds, as compared even with the Creed (so called) of 
Constantinople; 1 still more, as compared with the precise 
definitions of Ephesus and Chalcedon ; still more, as compared 
with the Creed (so called) of Athanasius ; still more, as com- 
pared with the modern confessions of Roman Catholic and 
Protestant Churches, the Nicene Creed is simple, moderate, 
and comprehensive. Only one technical word is incorporated 
in its language ; other words relating to the subtle controversies 
of the age " Perichoresis," "Probole," "Theotocos," even 
" Hypostasis " (except in a phrase which it condemns) have 
no more place in it than if they had never existed. The 
anathemas, indeed, represent the passions of the time, and as 
such have long been discarded. But even they might fairly be 
taken, as Eusebius and Constantine took them, as protests 
against the excessive definitions of the opposite party, against 
the exaggerated inferences drawn by Arius and his followers 
from figures and metaphors, which, in relation to the invisible 
world, can never be pressed literally without extreme danger to 
the cause of truth and faith. The late Bishop Kaye considered 
the distinction drawn at the Council between Athanasians and 
Arians to be "the greatest misfortune which ever befell the 
Christian 2 Church." But, as has 3 been well observed, it would 
have been a greater misfortune had the Council given an Arian 
definition, or had it defined further than it did. In hardly any 
subsequent age of the Church should we have fared so well. 
To Calvin the very pathos and solemnity of the Creed seemed 
but as a dull repetition. For homoousios he would have sub- 
stituted the not less dogmatic and more barbarous word, 

1 See Lecture IV. 

" Claims of Truth," by the Rev. Charles Wodehouse, p. 15. 
3 Professor Jowett, "On the Interpretation of Scripture," "Essays and 
Reviews," p. 420. 


The Council of Nicaea 

autotheos. The decree of Ephesus, forbidding the introduction 
of any new Creed, 1 well expresses the sense which the Church 
of that age entertained of the growing dangers of theological 
disputation. That decree was afterwards set aside in the letter 
by the Council of Chalcedon, and in the spirit by many sub- 
sequent acts of the Church. But the decree itself remains as a 
venerable and sure indication of the mind of Eastern, if not of 
Catholic, Christendom ; and the original Creed of Nicaea, though 
almost overlaid by the Confessions of later ages, yet still, even in 
its altered form, may be regarded as the standing bulwark and 
protest of the Church against an excessive spirit of dogmatism. 
But the work of the Council of Nicaea has been also justly 
regarded as a bulwark of the Orthodox faith, Luther, with the 
felicity of expression which so often distinguished his short 
sayings, described the Homoousion as a propugnaculum fidei, 
not the faith itself; not the actual citadel, but its outpost in the 
enemy's country. Such is the light in which the word was 
regarded by Athanasius himself. 2 He and those who acted 
with him were eager to make a stand somewhere against the 
infringement of the received ideas of the Divine Nature ; and 
the truth, of which this particular form was an expression, and 
round which this special controversy raged, was held by them 
to be the central truth of Christianity. This is not the place to 
discuss so grave a question as the proportion of the doctrines of 
religion, " the analogy of faith." First, and above all, stand 
those great moral doctrines of the Gospel to which the highest 
place has been assigned beyond dispute in the Gospel itself. 
But, next after these, ecclesiastical history teaches us that the 
most vital, the most comprehensive, the most fruitful, has been, 
and is still, not the supremacy of the Bible or the authority of 
its several books, not the power of the Pope or of the Church, 
not the vSacraments, not Original Sin, not Predestination, not 
Justification, but the doctrine of the Incarnation. 3 And it is a 
pregnant fact that this doctrine, and none of those just named, 
which have each in its turn been by different sections of the 
Church regarded as the pivots of theological controversy, was 
the one which exclusively engaged the attention of the Fathers 
of Nicaea. 

1 See Lecture IV. 

2 So Ath. de Syn. 45 : $cT7rep lirirci^KTfJ.a Kara irdffrjs aff/3ovs 

3 See Lecture VII., and Sermons on "The Bible, its Form and its 
Substance," sermon iii. 



THE authorities for the Life of Constantine are as follows : 
I. Ancient. 

1. Lactantius. (De Mort. Persec.) A.D. 250330. 

2. Eusebius. A.D. 264 340. 

a. Life of Constantine. 

b. Panegyric on Constantine. 

c. Constantine's Address. 

3. The Letters and Treatises of Athanasius. A.D. 296 373. 

4. Eumenius. (Panegyric at Treves.) A.D. 310. 

5. Nazarius. (Panegyric at Rome.) A.D. 321. 

6. Julian. (Caesars.) A.D. 331363. 

7. Eutropius. A.D. 350? 

8. Aurelius Victor. (Epitome.) A.D. 370? 

9. Zosimus. A. D. 430? 

II. Modern. Of these may be mentioned specially : 

1. (German.) "The Life of Constantine the Great," by Manso. 


2. (French.) "The Church and the Empire," by Albert Prince 

de Broglie ; of which the Life of Constantine is the most 
remarkable portion. 

IN describing the Council of Nicsea, I spoke of two celebrated 
men, each a pillar of the Eastern Church, each claiming also a 
place in general ecclesiastical history. One was the Emperor 
Constantine, the other was the Archdeacon Athanasius. 

The Emperor Constantine is one of the few to whom has 
been awarded the name of " Great." Though this was deserved 
rather by what he did, than by what he was ; though he was 
great, not among the first characters of the world, but among 
the second ; great like Philip, not like Alexander ; great 
like Augustus, not like Caesar; great with the elevation of 
Charlemagne or Elizabeth, not with the genius or passion 
of Cromwell or of Luther ; yet this gives us a stronger sense 
of what the position was which could of itself confer such 
undoubted grandeur on a character less than the highest. " It 
is one of the most tragical facts of all history," says Mr. Mill, 
" that Constantine, rather than Marcus Aurelius, was the first 
Christian Emperor. It is a bitter thought how different the 
Christianity of the world might have been, had it been adopted 
as the religion of the empire under the auspices of Marcus 


198 The Emperor Constantine 

Aurelius, instead of those of Constantine." x The whole history 
of the fourth century should be read in the light of that sad 
reflection, because it serves both to hold up to us the ideal of 
what the Christian Church and Christian theology might have 
been, and to remind us of what, under the existing conditions, 
it must have been, and actually was. 

But although Constantine was not Marcus Aurelius, nor 
S. Louis, nor Gustavus Adolphus, yet there is a profound 
interest in his imperfect complex character, which renders it 
peculiarly interesting as a subject of theological study. Over 
his virtues and vices the Pagans and Christians quarrelled 
during his lifetime. "You may believe safely," says the candid 
Fleury, "whatever Eusebius the Bishop has said in his blame, 
or Zosimus the heathen in his praise." The Orthodox and the 
heretics have each claimed him ; and a great writer 2 in our 
own time, though in one of his least remarkable works, has 
even gone so far as to avow that the services of Constantine to 
the Church ought to have closed the door against all censures 
of his character, had not his patronage of heresy restored to us 
the right of freedom of speech. In the estimate of his character 
the Greek and Latin Churches have each a stake. The Eastern 
Church, regarding him as especially her own, has canonised 
him as a saint, "equal to the Apostles." The Latin, at least 
the modern Latin, Church prides herself on superior discern- 
ment. Yet she also has, as we shall see, a dark corner in the 
Story of Constantine ; and, if the Eastern Church were to 
recriminate, 3 there would be no difficulty in finding parallel 
blots in the founder of Western (as Constantine was of East- 
ern) Christendom, the "beatified," though not "canonised," 

Nor is his life without a special connection with the history 
of our own Church. To English students I cannot forbear 
recalling that he was, if not our fellow-countryman by birth, yet 
unquestionably proclaimed Emperor in the Praetorium at York. 
He probably never visited our shores again. Yet the remem- 
brance of that early connection long continued. It shaped 
itself into the legend of his British birth, of which, within the 
walls of York, the scene is still shown. His father's tomb was 
pointed out in York till the suppression of the monasteries. 
His mother's name lives still in the numerous British churches 

1 Essay on Liberty, p. 58. 

2 Newman, History of the Arians, p. 138. 

3 See Mouravieff, Questions Religieuses, ii. 16. 

The Emperor Constantine 199 

dedicated to her. London wall was ascribed to him. One 
argument pleaded by the English ecclesiastics for precedence 
in the Councils of Constance and Basle was that Constantine 
had been a born Englishman. 

I have already described him as he appeared in the Council 
of Nicaea. Handsome, tall, stout, broad-shouldered, he was a 
high specimen of one of the coarse military chiefs of the 
declining Empire. When Eusebius first saw him, 1 as a young 
man, on a journey through Palestine before his accession, all 
were struck by the sturdy health and vigour of his frame ; and 
Eusebius perpetually recurs to it, and maintains that it lasted 
till the end of his life. In his later days his red complexion 
and somewhat bloated appearance 2 gave countenance to the 
belief that he had been affected with leprosy. His eye was 
remarkable for a brightness, 3 almost a glare, which reminded 
his courtiers of that of a lion. He had a contemptuous habit 
of throwing back 4 his head, which, by bringing out the full 
proportions of his thick neck, procured for him the nickname 6 
of Trachala. His voice was remarkable for its gentleness and 
softness. 6 In dress and outward demeanour the military 
commander was almost lost in the vanity and affectation of 
Oriental splendour. The spear 7 of the soldier was almost 
always in his hand, and on his head he always wore a small 
helmet. But the helmet was studded with jewels, and it was 
bound round with the Oriental diadem, which he, 8 first of the 
Emperors, made a practice of wearing on all occasions. His 
robe was remarked for its unusual magnificence. It was always 
of the Imperial purple or scarlet, and was made_pf silk, richly 
embroidered with pearls and flowers worked in gold. 9 He was 
especially devoted to the care of his hair, 10 ultimately adopting 
wigs of false hair 11 of various colours, and in such profusion 
as to make a marked feature on his coins. 12 First of the 
Emperors, since Hadrian, he wore a short beard. 

He was not a great man, but he was by no means an ordinary 
man. Calculating and shrewd as he was, yet his worldly views 
were penetrated by a vein of religious sentiment, almost of 

1 V. C. i. 19, 20. Compare Lact. de Mort. Persec. c. 18. 

2 Cedrenus, 269. 3 Ibid. 269. 
4 Aurelius Victor, Epit. 224; Manso, p. 412. 

6 Cedrenus, 269 : ira^iis rbv rpa-x^ov. 

6 Eus. V. C. iii. 9. 7 Ibid. iv. 30. 

8 Aurelius Victor, Epit. p. 224 ; Cedrenus, 295. 

9 Eus. Laud. Const, c. 5. 10 Cedrenus, 209. 
11 Julian, Cses. 335, 336. 12 Eckel, viii. 72. 

2OO The Emperor Constantine 

Oriental superstition. He had a wide view of his difficult 
position as the ruler of a divided Empire and divided Church. 
He had a short dry humour which stamps his sayings with an 
unmistakable authenticity, and gives us an insight into the 
cynical contempt of mankind 1 which he is said to have com- 
bined, by a curious yet not uncommon union, with an inordinate 
love of praise. He had a presence of mind which was never 
thrown off its guard. He had the capacity of throwing 
himself, with almost fanatical energy, into whatever cause came 
before him for the moment. One instance, at least, he showed 
of consummate foresight and genius. 

We have seen from his dress, and we see also from his 
language, that he was not without the wretched affectation 
which disfigured the demeanour of the later Emperors. 2 
Against one great old Roman vice, that of voracious gluttony, 
he struggled, but struggled in vain. 3 The Christian accounts 
all speak of his continence. Julian alone insinuates the 
contrary. 4 It was only as despotic power and Eastern manners 
made inroads into the original self-control of his character that 
he was betrayed into that disregard of human life, in his 
nearest and dearest relationships, which, from the same causes, 
darkened the declining years of the Grecian Alexander and the 
English Henry. 

It will be my object in the following Lecture to trace this 
character through three epochs of his ecclesiastical life : as the 
first Christian Emperor : as the first example of the interven- 
tion of a sovereign power in the internal affairs of the Church ; 
and as occupying peculiar relations towards the Western and 
Eastern Churches. These aspects are in fact more or less 
represented by the three periods of his reign, according to a 
somewhat severe proverb which spoke of him as excellent for 
the first ten years, as a robber for the next twelve, as a spend- 
thrift for the last ten. 5 

I. Every student of ecclesiastical history must pause for a 
moment before the conversion of Constantine. No conversion 
of such magnitude had occurred since the apostolic age. None 
such occurred again till the baptism of the several founders of 
the Teutonic and Sclavonic kingdoms. 

Like all such events, it had its peculiar preparations, and took 
its peculiar colouring from the circumstances of the time and 

1 Eus. Laud. Const, c. 5 ; Aurelius Victor, Epit. p. 224. 

2 See Lecture IV. p. 148. 3 Julian, Caes. 329, 335. 

4 Ibid. 6 Aurelius Victor, Epit. p. 224. 

The Emperor Constantine 201 

the character of the man. He had the remembrance of his 
father Constantius just such a " devout " believer in Divine 
Providence as we find so common in the Roman army several 
generations earlier, in the many good centurions of the New 
Testament. He had a lively recollection of the Christian 
arguments used before Diocletian. His rival Maxentius was a 
fierce fanatical Pagan, armed with magical arts, as was supposed, 
against which any counter supernatural influences were much 
to be cherished. He was approaching Rome for the first time, 
and was filled with the awe which that greatest of earthly cities 
inspired in all who named its name, or came within its influence. 
It is needless to repeat at length the story which Eusebius gives 
on the testimony of the Emperor himself. That he was in 
prayer on his march ; that " about noon, as the day was 
declining," 1 a flaming cross appeared in the sky with the words 
" In this conquer ; " that in the night which followed he saw 
in a dream the figure of Christ bearing a standard, such 
as in Christian pictures is represented in the Descent to the 
departed spirits ; that on consultation with Christian clergy in 
the camp he adopted this sacred banner instead of the Roman 
eagles, and professed himself a disciple of the Christian faith. 
This differs materially from the several narratives of the 
Christian Lactantius, the Pagan Nazarius, and the Arian Philo- 
storgius. Yet those stories (the former speaking of a dream 
in which the monogram of the name of Christ was ordered 
to be inscribed on the shields of the soldiers, the latter of 
flaming armies in the sky) point to some fact of the same 
kind : and it is not often in ancient history that we have a state- 
ment so immediately at first hand, as this of Eusebius from 
Constantine. That the Emperor attested it on oath, as the 
historian tells us, is indeed no additional guarantee for the 
Emperor's veracity; because, like princes professing piety in 
modern times, he appears to have been in the constant habit of 
adding an oath 2 to almost every asseveration. But this very 
circumstance is an additional guarantee for the veracity of 
Eusebius in his version of the story. And further, that some 
such cha'nge, effected by some such means, took place at this 
crisis, is confirmed not only by the fact of Constantine's adoption 
of the Christian faith immediately afterwards, but by the specific 
introduction of the standard of the cross into the army, in great 

1 See the explanation of this expression in the Notes to Lactantius c. 44 

(i- 3I5)- 
8 See Lectures III. p 120, IV. p. 153. 

H 2 

2O2 The Emperor Constantine 

measure, though not entirely, agreeing with the indications in 
the narrative. 

If we suppose that the appearance was seen by others 
besides Constantine himself, it may well have been some such 
natural phenomenon as is known by the name of a " parhelion," 
which in an afternoon sky not unfrequently assumes almost the 
form of a cross. The impression produced may be compared 
to the effect of the Aurora Borealis which appeared in November, 
1848, and which was interpreted in the various countries of 
Europe according to the feeling uppermost at the moment, 
much as we may imagine that any like appearance would be 
by the army of Constantine. In France, it was regarded as 
forming the letters L. N., in prospect of the Presidential election 
then impending. In Oporto, it was regarded as the fire de- 
scending from on high to visit the crimes of a profligate city. 
In Rome, it was believed to be the blood of the murdered 
Rossi gone up to heaven to cry for vengeance against his 

If we suppose, on the other hand, that it was an appearance 
to Constantine alone, there is nothing more surprising than in 
the vision which effected the conversion of Colonel Gardner, 
and which was related by himself to Dr. Doddridge, as that of 
Constantine to Eusebius. 1 The conversion of Colonel Gardner 
was doubtless more complete, and his convictions more 
profound ; but there is nothing in Constantine's character to 
prevent the possibility of such an occurrence. He was far 
from being the mere worldly prince of a worldly age. Not he 
only, but his whole family, were swayed by a strong religious 
sentiment, bursting out in different channels, in the pilgrimages 
of Helena, in the Arianism of Constantia and Constantius, in 
the Paganism of Julian, but in all sincerely, as far as it went. 
To Constantine himself, dreams, visions, and revelations were 
matters, as he and his friends supposed, of constant recurrence. 
His knowledge of the conspiracy of Maximin against his life, of 
the approach of the army of Licinius ; the conception of the 
statue representing a dragon overthrown, before his palace ; the 
discovery of the Holy Sepulchre ; the dedication of Constanti- 
nople, are all ascribed by Eusebius to direct intimations from 
heaven. 2 He was a prophet to those around him, no less than 

1 Dr. Doddridge's version of the story, in spite of its contradiction by Dr. 
Carlyle (Autobiography, p. 19), appears, in its main points, to be well 

2 Eus. V. C. i. 27, 28, ii. 12, iii. 3, 29. 

The Emperor Constantine 203 

a sovereign. We should not be surprised at the story of such 
a vision in the life of Cromwell, neither ought we to be in the 
life of Constantine, even were the issues which hung upon it 
less momentous than they really were. 

The victory of the Milvian Bridge is one of the few battles 
that have decided the fate of the Church no less than of the 
world. It was not without cause that in the results of the 
engagement, as well as in its details of the entanglement of 
men and horses in the eddies of the Tiber, Christians should 
have been reminded l of the great deliverance of the Jewish 
Church, when " the horse and his rider were thrown into the 
sea," and Israel came out free from the bondage of the Egyptian 
Pharaoh. It was the first fulfilment, as it seemed, of the motta 
which Constantine had seen in his vision Conquer; and 
from this and his subsequent victories, which followed in rapid 
succession, over his several rivals, he acquired the name of 
Conqueror, which, both in its Latin and Greek form (Victor^ 
Nicetes\ passed almost into a proper name, and is held up as 
the omen of his career by his Christian eulogists. This victory 
ended the age of persecutions, and ended also the primitive 
period of ecclesiastical history. The seven-branched candle- 
stick of Jerusalem was lost, it is said, on that day in the waves 
of the Tiber. On that day, too, was lost the simpler ruder 
form of the Christianity of the first three centuries. From 
that day onwards, the 28th of October, in the year 312, began 
the gradual recognition of the Christian faith by those ambigu- 
ous measures which have invested the career of Constantine 
with such a peculiar difficulty of interpretation. 

The triumphal arch which bears his name, and which was 
erected as a trophy of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, is a 
standing monument, not only of the decay of art which had 
already made itself felt, but of the hesitation of the new 
Emperor between the two religions. The dubious inscription 
on its front well marks the moment of transition. " Instinctu 
Divinitatis et mentis magnitudine ;; are the two causes to which 
the senate ascribes the victory. " Divinitas," or Providence, is 
the word 2 under which, in his public acts, he veils his passage 
from Paganism to Christianity. His statues, in like manner, 
halted between the two opinions. That erected at Rome held 
in its hand the Emperor's well-known spear, but the spear bore 
the form of a cross. That at Constantinople was in the image 

1 Bus. V. C. i. 38. 

a This is well brought out by Broglie, i. 234-239. 

204 The Emperor Constantine 

of his ancient patron deity Apollo; but the glory of the sunbeams 
was composed of the emblems of the Crucifixion, and under- 
neath its feet were buried in strange juxtaposition a fragment of 
the " True Cross " and the ancient Palladium of Rome. His 
coins bore on the one side the letters of the name of Christ ; on 
the other the figure of the Sun-god, and the inscription " Sol 
invictus," as if he could not bear to relinquish the patronage of 
the bright luminary which represented to him, as to Augustus 
and to Julian, 1 his own guardian deity. 

The same tenacious adherence to the ancient God of light 
has left its trace, even to our own time, on one of the most 
sacred and universal of Christian institutions. The retention 
of the old Pagan name of " Dies Solis" or " Sunday," for the 
weekly Christian festival, is, in great measure, owing to the union 
of Pagan and Christian sentiment with which the first day of the 
week was recommended by Constantine to his subjects, Pagan 
and Christian alike, as the " venerable day of the Sun." His 
decree, regulating its observance, has been justly called 2 " a 
new era in the history of the Lord's day." It was his mode of 
harmonising the discordant religions of the Empire under one 
common institution. 

These ambiguities, though in part the growth of Constantine's 
own peculiarities, lose much of their strangeness and gain in 
general interest, when viewed in the light of the age of which 
they were a part. In the change from Roman Catholicism to 
Protestantism in the English Reformation, it would be easy to 
adduce parallels of persons who wavered so constantly between 
the two, that it is difficult to know exactly what place to assign 
to them. Elizabeth herself may suffice as a specimen. This 
may prepare us for finding that even in the much greater 
change from Paganism to Christianity the boundary lines were 
less abrupt than at this distance we are apt to fancy. Orpheus 
and Pan appear as representing our Saviour in the Christian 
catacombs. The labours of Hercules are engraven on the 
chair undoubtedly old, possibly authentic of S. Peter. The 
Jordan appears as a river god in the baptistery at Ravenna. 
Some of the epitaphs in the Christian catacombs begin with the 
usual Pagan address to the gods of the grave. Even in the 
fifth century, a Pope was suspected of consulting the Etruscan 
auguries in the terror of Alaric's siege. In the sixth century, 
whether Boethius was a Christian or a Pagan is still matter of 

1 Julian, Ep. 51. 

2 Dr. Hessey's Bampton Lectures, pp. 77-89. 

The Emperor Constantine 205 

dispute; and Bishops of that age in the neighbourhood of 
Antioch were accused of being present at a human sacrifice. 1 

We may remember the striking remarks of Niebuhr : 
" Many judge of Constantine by too severe a standard, because 
they regard him as a Christian ; but I cannot look upon him 
in that light. The religion which he had in his head must 
have been a strange jumble indeed. . . . He was a super- 
stitious man, and mixed up his Christian religion with all kinds 
of absurd superstitions and opinions. When certain Oriental 
writers call him 'equal to the Apostles/ they do not know 
what they are saying; and to speak of him as a saint is a pro- 
fanation of the word." 2 

This is true in itself. But, in order to be just, we must 
bear in mind that it probably describes the religion of many 
in that time besides Constantine. And it is indisputable, that, 
in spite of all these inconsistencies, he went steadily forward in 
the main purpose of his life, that of protecting and advancing 
the cause of the Christian religion. The Paganism of Julian, 
if judged by the Paganism of Cicero or of Pericles, would 
appear as strange a compound as the Christianity of Constan- 
tine, if judged by the Christianity of the Middle Ages or of the 
Reformation. But Julian's face was not set more steadily 
backwards than was Constantine's steadily forwards. The one 
devoted himself to the revival of that which had waxed old, 
and was ready to vanish away ; the other to the advancement of 
that which year by year was acquiring new strength and life. 

It is not necessary to do more than enumerate the acts of 
Constantine's ecclesiastical legislation, in order to see the vast- 
ness of the revolution of which he was the leader. 

In the year after his conversion was issued the Edict of 
Toleration. Then followed in rapid succession, the decree for 
the observance of Sunday in the towns of the Empire, the use 
of prayers for the army, 3 the abolition of the punishment of 
crucifixion, the encouragement of the emancipation of slaves, 
the discouragement of infanticide, the prohibition of private 
divinations, the prohibition of licentious and cruel rites, the 
prohibition of gladiatorial games. Every one of these steps was 
a gain to the Roman Empire and to mankind, such as not even 
the Antonines had ventured to attempt, and of those benefits 
none has been altogether lost. Undoubtedly, if Constantine 

1 Ecclesiastical History of John of Ephesus, iii. 29. 

a Lectures on Roman History, v. 449. 

8 These contained one germ of " Te Deum." Eus. V. C. iv. 39. 

2o6 The Emperor Constantine 

is to be judged by the place which he occupies amongst 
the benefactors of humanity, he would rank, not amongst the 
secondary characters of history, but amongst the very first. 

II. From Constantine's Christian legislation for the Empire, 
we naturally pass to his intervention in the affairs of the Church 
itself. Of this the most direct example was that which we have 
already seen in the Council of Nicsea. But that event was only 
the chief manifestation of the new relations which he introduced, 
and which to Eusebius appeared no less than the fulfilment of 
the Apocalyptic vision of the New Jerusalem. 

Here, also, the conflict of his own personal character has left 
its marks even to this hour. On the one hand, he never forgot, 
nor did the ecclesiastics ever forget, that he was the consecrated 
Emperor of the world ; and that, even in their company, he 
regarded himself as the Bishop of Bishops. That General 
Councils are called, maintained, and controlled by the Imperial 
power, was first laid down by Constantine, and is still one of 
the established maxims of the Eastern Churches, and also of the 
Church of England. 1 On the other hand, he always felt a 
mysterious awe in the presence of the clergy, 2 which probably 
first awakened in them the sense of their position as a distinct 
order in the State ; and which, although less prominent in the 
East, became in the West the germ of the Papal and hierarchical 
system of the middle ages. But his leading idea was to restore 
peace to the Church, as he had restored it to the Empire. 3 In 
the execution of this idea two courses of action presented 
themselves to him, as they have to all ecclesiastical statesmen 
ever since. He stands at the head of all, in the fact that he 
combined them both in himself. In him both the latitudi- 
narian and the persecutor may find their earliest precedents, 
which were both alike approved by the ecclesiastics of that age, 
though in later times he has been as severely condemned for the 
one as he has been praised for the other. No scheme of 
comprehension has been broader, on the one hand, than that 
put forward in his letter of advice to Alexander and Arius ; 4 
and on the other, when this failed, he still pursued the same 
end, with the same tenacity, by the directly opposite means of 
enforcing uniformity, to us long familiar, but first introduced 
by him into the Church the hitherto unknown practice of 
subscription to the articles of a written Creed, and the infliction 
of civil penalties on those who refused to conform. 

1 See Lecture II. pp. 109-111. 2 See Lecture III. p. 121. 

3 "Quietis Instaurator. " 4 See Lecture III. pp. 120-121. 

The Emperor Constantine 207 

These were his public measures, natural in a half-educated 
soldier suddenly awakened to a sense of a position of almost 
unprecedented political importance, yet complicated by the 
contradictions in which such a man, so placed, was almost 
certain to be involved. Legislators and ecclesiastics in later 
times have followed in his footsteps, without the same excuse ; 
and, on the whole, with no greater success. 

What his personal convictions may have been, in regard to 
the peculiar doctrines which he successively attacked and 
defended, it is impossible to determine. But we cannot doubt 
his sincere interest in some at least of the questions which were 
raised. Like his nephew Julian, 1 although with a far ruder 
education and less fantastic mind, he threw himself into the 
disputations of the time as a serious business of Imperial state. 
Not only did he at the festival of Easter spent the night in 
prayer with every appearance of devotion, and even preside at 
the most sacred ceremonies, but he alternately, as student or 
teacher, took part in Christian preaching. 2 The extravagant 
adulation of his followers hardly left him any choice. Eusebius 
ascribes to him a direct inspiration from Heaven : " We do 
not instruct thee, who hast been made wise by God. We 
do not disclose to thee the sacred mysteries, which long before 
any discourses of men God Himself revealed, not of men nor 
by men, but through our common Saviour, and the Divine vision 
of Himself which has often shone upon thee." 8 If he did 
listen to the sermons of others, it was regarded as an act of the 
highest condescension. Eusebius has left us an account of 
one which he himself delivered to "the marvellous man," as he 
calls him, on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was in the 
Palace. There was a crowded audience. The Emperor stood 
erect the whole time ; would not be induced to sit down on the 
throne close by ; paid the utmost attention ; would not hear 
of the sermon being too long ; insisted on its continuance ; and, 
on being again entreated to sit down, replied, with a frown, 
that he could not bear to hear the truths of religion in any 
easier j>osture. 4 More often he was himself the preacher. 
One such sermon has been preserved to us by Eusebius. 
These sermons were always in Latin ; but they were translated 
into Greek by interpreters appointed for the purpose. On 
these occasions a general invitation was issued, and thousands 
of people flocked to the Palace to hear an Emperor turned 

1 Broglie, iii. 281. 2 Eus. V. C. iv. 39. 

* Laud. Const, c. II. 4 V. C. iv. 32. 

208 The Emperor Constantine 

preacher. He stood erect ; and then, with a set countenance 
and grave voice, poured forth his address; to which, at the 
striking passages, the audience responded with loud cheers of 
approbation, the Emperor vainly endeavouring to deter them 
by pointing upwards, as if to transfer the glory from himself to 

He usually preached on the general system of the Christian 
revelation ; the follies of Paganism ; the Unity and Providence 
of God ; the scheme of redemption ; the Judgment ; and then 
attacked fiercely the avarice and rapacity of the courtiers, who 
cheered lustily, but did nothing of what he had told them. On 
one occasion he caught hold of one of them, and drawing 
on the ground with his spear the figure of a man, said : "In 
this space is contained all that you will carry with you after 
death." 1 

III. If Constantine was intoxicated by his success at Nicaea, 
and by the enthusiasm of his ecclesiastical admirers, he can 
hardly be blamed. To these influences probably, and to 
the demoralising effect of his Oriental habits, must be attri- 
buted the melancholy fact that he was, by general consent, 
a worse prince at the close of his reign than at its beginning, 
when he was little better than a Pagan. 2 

On this the third part of his career, where the incidents of 
his life and the indications of his character were more closely 
connected, we now enter. It has been lately drawn out with 
a skilful eloquence, perhaps in its details beyond the strict 
warrant of facts, but in its general outline sufficiently justified. 3 

In the year following the Council of Nicaea, Constantine 
visited Rome for the first time since his declared conversion. 
Two events marked this fatal visit. 

The first brings before us in a striking form the decay of the 
old religion and the rise of the new. The Emperor arrived at 
Rome a short time before the Ides of Quintilis, the i5th of 
July. That day was the anniversary of the battle of the Lake 
Regillus, when the twin gods, Castor and Pollux, had fought 
for Rome, and brought the glad tidings of victory to the city. 
On this day a grand muster and inspection of the Equestrian 
order formed part of the ceremony, in honour of the two 
equestrian gods. 4 All the knights, clad in purple and crowned 
with olive, rode in state to the Forum. It was considered one 

1 V. C. iv. 29, 30. Probably addressed to Ablavius. (See Broglie, ii. 83. ) 

2 Eutrop. x. 7 ; Aurelius Victor, Epit. 224. 

8 .Broglie, ii. 93-114. 4 See Zosimus, ii. 2. 

The Emperor Constantine 209 

of the most splendid pageants of Rome. The cavalcade 
sometimes consisted of 5,000 horsemen. It is this festival 
which Lord Macaulay has celebrated in his Lay on the Battle 
of the Lake Regillus. A few of his lines will place us more in 
the presence of the spectacle which Constantine saw, than any 
lengthened prose description : 

" Ho, trumpets, sound a war-note ! 

Ho, lictors, clear the way ! 
The Knights will ride, in all their pride, 

Along the streets to-day. 
To-day the doors and windows 

Are hung with garlands all, 
From Castor in the Forum 

To Mars without the wall. 
Each Knight is robed in purple, 

With olive each is crown'd ; 
A gallant war-horse under each 

Paws haughtily the ground. 
While flows the Yellow River, 

While stands the Sacred Hill, 
The proud Ides of Quintilis 

Shall have such honour still. 
Gay are the Martian Kalends : 

December's Nones are gay : 
But the proud Ides, when the squadron rides, 

Shall be Rome's whitest day." 

Of this august ceremonial the shadow still remained, and its 
great recollections endeared it to the Roman populace ; but its 
meaning was passed away ; and Constantine not only refused 
to take part in the rites of worship which it involved, but, as 
the procession rode by, could not restrain the sarcastic 
humour for which he was renowned, and openly indulged in 
jest at the sham knights and the empty pomp. 

The Roman people were furious. A riot broke out in the 
streets. He remained impassive. It was probably on this 
occasion that he uttered one of his cold dry sayings. A 
courtier rushed in to announce that stones had been thrown 
at the head of one of the Emperor's statues. The Emperor 
passed His hand over his face, and said with a smile : " It is 
very surprising, but I do not feel in the least hurt. There is 
nothing amiss in my head ; nothing in my face." Years after- 
wards this speech was constantly quoted. " Length of time," 
says Chrysostom, "has neither weakened nor extinguished the 
memory of such exalted wisdom. . . . His other exploits are 
forgotten. But this is not only heard and repeated, but 

2io The Emperor Constantine 

repeated with applause : every one who hears it cries out and 
prays for innumerable blessings on the departed Emperor." * 

But, however favourable the impression thus produced of his 
placability, the disgust which this incident awakened in his 
mind against the city and religion of Rome rankled deep 
within, and side by side with it we dimly trace a tragedy, 
which, in its mysterious interest, and in the consequences to 
which it led, ranks with any to which history or fiction has 
been ever devoted. The Imperial family consisted of various 
heterogeneous elements. 2 There were, first, the offspring of 
the two marriages of Constantius Chlorus : Constantine, the 
son of the low-born Helena ; and his three half-brothers, sons 
of Theodora, who was daughter of the Emperor Maximian. 
Next were in like manner the double offspring of Constantine 
'himself: Crispus, the son of the obscure Minervina ; Con- 
stantine, Constantius, and Constans, the sons of Fausta, sister 
of Theodora ; and thus aunt to her husband's three half- 
brothers. Thirdly, there was Constantia, sister of Constantine, 
wife of Constantine's rival the Emperor Licinius, and mother of 
a young prince of the same name. Every one of these char- 
acters contributes to the drama which has met with a parallel 
twice over in European history : the story of Philip II., 
Isabella, and Don Carlos ; the story of Peter the Great and his 
son Alexis. 3 It is easy to imagine the animosities and partiali- 
ties of Helena, the Empress-mother ; of Fausta, the reigning 
Empress; of the two lines of Imperial Princes against each 
other. Out of this vortex of mutual suspicion emerge three 
<3ark crimes faintly known at the time, hardly mentioned above 
a whisper even in the next generation, passed over without a 
word from the courtly Eusebius, glanced at without the names 
by Chrysostom ; yet in some form or other incontestably true, 
and connected more or less certainly with Constantine's last 
visit to Rome. Crispus, the heir to the throne suspected of 
high-treason, says one tradition ; of intrigue with his step-mother, 
says another is, by his father's orders, put to death at Pola. 
The young Licinius, apparently as part of the same plan, is torn 
from the arms of his mother Constantia, and murdered in the 

1 Chrysostom, Horn, de Stat. xxi. n. 

2 See the Genealogy, p. 226. 

3 The parallel of Don Carlos must be received with the qualifications 
which later discoveries have introduced into the story. It is in its older 
form that it so nearly resembles the murder of Crispus. That of Alexis is 
still unshaken. 

The Emperor Constantine 211 

remote East. If the party of Fausta for a moment triumphed 
in the destruction of these two youthful rivals, their hopes 
were soon overcast. The Empress Helena, 1 furious at the loss 
of her favourite grandson, turned the dark suspicions of her 
son into another quarter, and the next victim was Fausta 
herself. 2 She was accused of unfaithfulness with one of the 
Imperial Guards ; 3 according to the Byzantine tradition of the 
next century, exposed to starvation on the top of some desert 
mountain ; 4 according to the more usual story, suffocated in 
the vapours of the Imperial bath. 

However secret these horrors might be, yet enough tran- 
spired to rouse the popular feeling of Rome, already wounded 
by the Emperor's neglect of the sacred rites of the city. An 
inscription was found one day over the gates of the Palatine, 
catching at once the two weak points of Constantine's char- 
acter, his Oriental luxury and his cruelty : 

*' Saturni aurea ssecla quis requirit ? 
Sunt hsec gemmea, sed Neroniana." 

From this black period of Constantine's life flow, in a 
sequence more or less remote, four great results of ecclesias- 
tical history. 

i. The foundation of the Papal Power in Rome. 

In the Emperor's passionate remorse (so the story ran in 
the Pagan circles of his subjects) his thoughts turned back to 
the old religion which he had deserted. He applied to the 
Flamens at Rome for purification. 5 They proudly declared 
that for such crimes their religious ritual knew of no expia- 
tion. He turned (so another version reported) to philosophy. 
He sought for relief from Sopater, 6 the chief of the Alexandrian 
Platonists, and from him also the same stern answer was 
received. In this extremity (and here Pagan and Christian 
accounts to a certain extent coincide) he sought refuge in the 
new religion which he had taken under his protection. There 
was an Egyptian magician from Spain, well known among the 
ladies of the Imperial court, who assured him that in the 

1 Zos. ii. 29 ; Aurel. Viet. Epit. 224. 

2 For all the authorities see Clinton's Fasti Romani, A.D. 326. 

3 Philost. ii. 5. 4 Chrysostom, in Philipp. Horn. xv. 

5 Julian, Cses. 336. 

6 He assisted in the dedication of Constantinople, but is said to have been 
afterwards put to death by Constantine, as a proof of his own orthodoxy. 
Soz. i. 5 ; Zosimus, ii. 40 ; Suidas in voce. 

212 The Emperor Constantine 

Christian Church were mysteries which provided purification 
from any sin, however great. Through this Spanish Egyptian, 
or Egyptain Spaniard, according to Zosimus, the conversion of 
Constantine took place. Taken literally this cannot be true. 
The conversion of the Emperor had taken place long before. 
His baptism, as we shall see, took place long after. But the 
story is not, therefore, to be rejected as wholly false. That 
Spanish counsellor, we cannot doubt, was the well-known 
Hosius, Bishop of Cordova, the Emperor's counsellor in the 
West, as Eusebius of Caesarea in the East. He would be on 
the spot with Helena and her suite. He, as the confidential 
adviser of Constantine, would be the very person that the 
Empress would most naturally consult; and he would in all 
probability give the very answer which to Pagan ears seemed 
so monstrous: "There are no sins so great, but that in 
Christianity they may find forgiveness." It is a doctrine, 
which, according to the manner in which it is presented to us, 
is indeed the worst corruption or the noblest boast of the 
Christian religion. "In Christianity there is forgiveness for 
every sin. " This may be the hateful Antinomianism which, in 
the Protestant Church, has taken shelter under the Lutheran 
doctrine of "Justification by Faith only," in the Roman 
Catholic Church, under the scholastic doctrine of Priestly 
Absolution. But it may also be the true message of the 
Gospel ; the reception of the prodigal son, of the woman who 
was a sinner, and of the thief on the cross ; the doctrine that 
the Divine forgiveness is ever at hand as soon as man turns to 
be forgiven. Of this intervention of her great Hosius, -the 
Church of Spain has made the most. But there was yet 
another version of the story, of which the Church of Rome has 
made still more. According to Sozomen, 1 it was not Hosius 
but Sylvester, Bishop of Rome, who thus received the penitent 
Emperor, and who gave him not only consolation, but the 
actual rite of baptism. And such a representation is curiously 
in accordance with the easy reception of gross sinners of which 
Tertullian complains in earlier Bishops of Rome, probably 
Callistus. 2 

Out of this version, in part certainly false, in part founded 
on truth, arose the portentous fable of the Donation of 

1 Soz. i. 5. 

2 Tert. de Pudicitia, i. : "Pontifex Maximus, quod est Episcopus Episco- 
porum, edicat : Ego et mcechise et fornicationis delicta poenitentia functis 
dimitto. O edictum cui non ascribi potuit Bonum factum ! " 

The Emperor Constantine 213 

Constantine, which, as an example of all such fictions, ought 
never to be forgotten by students of ecclesiastical history. In 
the seventh year of his reign (so, omitting all mention of his 
crimes, the legend runs) Constantine was struck with leprosy. 
He consulted all physicians in vain. Jews recommended to 
him the blood of infants. 1 The magical arts of the heathen 
sorcerers gave way before the sanctity of the Roman Bishop. 
He heard that the aged Sylvester was living in concealment on 
the heights of Mont Soracte, where the convent now stands 
which bears Sylvester's name. He sought him out. He was 
baptised by him in the Lateran Palace. In return, he gave to 
him, as his spiritual father, not only the scene of his baptism, 
but the dominion over the city of Rome, over Italy, over the 
Western Empire. 

" Ah ! Constantine ; to how much ill gave birth, 
Not thy conversion, but those rich domains 
That the first wealthy Pope received of thee ! " 2 

So Dante described, in the bitterness of his heart, what he 
believed to be the origin of the Pope's temporal sovereignty. 
And even when the progress of criticism had taught the next 
great Italian poet to place the donation of Constantine in 
the moon amongst the things which have never been, the 
ecclesiastical historians of Rome still clung to such shreds of 
truth as the story contained, even at the risk of making the 
Papal power the price of an absolution for the murder of a 
son, a nephew, and a wife. 

But though the actual transaction of the baptism and of 
the donation is fabulous, there was a slight connection of fact 
between the crime of Constantine and the early rise of Roman 
ecclesiastical grandeur. 

There is every probability that remorse, taking the form of 
devotion, as in the princes and prelates of the middle ages, 
should have led to the building of churches at Rome, and the 
attachment of certain privileges to the see of Rome. It is 
false that Constantine gave the Roman States. But it may 
possibly be true that he gave (to use the modern phrase) " a 
palace and a garden ; " and there is little doubt that the 
Lateran Palace, which had actually belonged to the Empress 
Fausta, and had been already assigned by him to ecclesiastical 
purposes, was formally made over by him to the Roman see. 

1 Cedrenus, 271. 

2 Inferno, xix. 115 (Milton, Prose Works, i. p. u.) 

214 The Emperor Constantine 

Parts of the building especially the baptistery are actually 
of his time, and it must be from some strong historical reason 
that the Palace and Church of the Lateran, rather than St. 
Peter's and the Vatican, form the nucleus of Christian and Papal 
Rome. Here, and not in St. Peter's, have all the Roman 
Councils been held. This, and not St. Peter's, is the Cathedral 
Church of Rome, the mother Church of Christendom. 

" Dogmate Papcili datur ac simul Imperially 
Quod sim cunctarum mater caput ecdesiarum. " 

Here, and not in the Vatican, was the early residence, and 
still take place the enthronisation and coronation, of the Popes. 
On the throne of the Lateran, and not on the chair of S. Peter, 
is written the proud inscription : 

"Hose est Papalis Sedes et Pontificate. " 

This, if we may so apply Ariosto's words, as translated by 

"This is that gift, if you the truth will have, 
Which Constantine to good Sylvester gave." 1 

2. There is yet another particle of truth in the story of the 
Donation. According to the fable of Sylvester, Constantine 
retired to Greece, 2 in order to leave Italy for the Pope. 

" Per cedere al Pastor sifece Greco" 3 

So said the legend. And it was undoubtedly the case, that by 
retiring to the East he left the field clear for the Bishops of 
Rome. In the absence of the Emperors from Rome, the chief 
Christian 4 magistrate rose to new importance. When the 
barbarians broke upon Italy, the Pope thus became the 
representative of the ancient Republic. It is one of the many 
senses in which the famous saying of Hobbes is true, that the 
Papacy is but "the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, 
sitting crowned upon the grave thereof." 

1 Orlando Furioso, xxiv. 80. 

2 See, for all the authorities, Gieseler, ii. 336. 

3 Dante, Paradiso, xx. 55. 

4 Compare the importance of the position which the Patriarch of Con- 
stantinople, as representative of the Byzantine Church and Empire, now 
holds under the Sultan. 

The Emperor Constantine 215 

His retirement from Rome may well have been in part 
occasioned by remorse for the crimes which he had there 
sanctioned. The belief in such a connection was perpetuated 
in the story that the first monument erected in his new city 
was the golden statue of Crispus, underneath which was 
written : " To my innocent and unfortunate son." More 
certainly his retreat was caused by a revulsion from the 
Roman Paganism. For Rome was Pagan. He and her 
Pagan customs had come into collision on the Ides of Quintilis 
in a manner never to be forgotten. He determined to 
make a new Rome elsewhere. A striking parallel is found 
in the case of another great potentate of the Eastern Church. 
Moscow, the centre of old Russia, was to Peter the Great,, 
as Rome, the centre of old Paganism, was to Constantine; 1 
and he founded his new capital at Petersburg (the very 
adoption of the name is exactly analogous) as Constantine 
at Constantinople. 

Of all the events of Constantine's life, this choice is the 
most convincing and enduring proof of his real genius. No- 
city, chosen by the art of man, has been so well chosen, and 
so permanent. Alexandria is the nearest approach. All the 
others erected by the fancy or policy of individual sovereigns- 
are miserably inferior, Berlin, Madrid, and even Petersburg. 
He had thought of other spots in the neighbourhood : Sardica 
in Mcesia 2 ("my Rome is," he said, "at Sardica"); or Troy,, 
following the old tradition against which Horace had protested. 
But, when at Chrysopolis (Scutari) and Nicaea, he had seen 
Byzantium. As his conversion was ushered in by the story 
of a preternatural apparition, so was his choice of this, as it 
may well be called, predestinated capital. An eagle flew from? 
the opposite shore to mark the spot. Sopater, the Neoplaton- 
ist, assisted with his heathen ceremonies at the consecration. 
He himself, in solemn procession, traced the boundaries of 
the city with his well-known spear, and when asked to halt 
in the immense circuit, replied, " I shall go on till He who- 
guides me stops." " Jubente Deo " are his own words in 
describing his choice. 3 

The situation is indeed unrivalled. It stands, alone of the 
cities of the world, actually on two continents. It has the 
advantages of the confluence as of two rivers, and of a 
splendid maritime situation besides; for such is the effect, 

1 See Lecture XII. 2 Broglie, ii. 144. 

3 Ibid. ii. 154. 

216 The Emperor Constantine 

both in appearance and reality, of the Bosphorus and the 
Golden Horn, and the deep waters of the Propontis. As in 
the combination of these advantages, narrow straits, deep 
inlets, numerous islands, prolonged promontories, Europe is 
the miniature of the civilised world; and Greece, with its 
^Egean Sea, is the miniature of the geography of Europe; 
so the- local peculiarities both of Greece and Europe are 
concentrated and developed to the highest degree in Con- 
stantinople. It is impossible to look down from the Galata 
Tower on the complication of sea and land, island and 
mainland, peninsula and promontory, strait and continent, 
and not feel that the spot is destined to be, what it seems 
more and more likely to be both historically and politically, 
the Gordian knot of the world. 

And this situation is further designed by nature, not merely 
for a great city, but for a capital of the most imposing aspect, 
nay more, for a second Rome. As truly a city of the sea as 
any of the maritime cities of the West, it has the advantage of 
being raised aloft on a line of hills, towering high above the 
level waters of the Bosphorus. These hills, too, are seven in 
number seven, not like the hills of old Rome, indistinctly 
and confusedly, but each following each in marked and august 
succession each crowned even now, and probably crowned 
always, by magnificent buildings (mosques now, churches 
then), closing in the mass of verdure which gathers round 
the buildings of the palace on the extreme eastern point. 

And this glorious city, "the City" as it 1 alone is called, 
is but the crowning scene which rises in the midst of the 
three other quarters, Galata, Pera, Scutari, each with its own 
towers and forests ; and the whole intervening space between 
and around is now, and probably was always since its found- 
ation, alive with skiffs and boats and ships and flags of 
all the nations of the world. In the Apocalyptic vision 
of Babylon, which brings together in one the various images of 
earthly greatness, there are features taken from the ancient 
Tyre, which are vainly sought in the old Rome beside the 
Tiber. Constantinople alone unites them all. Few would 
pretend to say that she was designed, however remotely, in 
the prophet's vision. But it is a proof of what she is, that 
she, and she alone, in her union of traffic, and ships, and 
splendour, and her seat of seven hills, comes up to the 

1 Stambottl is fls r^v ir6\iv, being itself a corruption of Istambul, which, 
however, has again been corrupted into IslambuL 

The Emperor Constantine 217 

highest local images of earthly grandeur as therein presented 
to our view. 

What of the ancient empire may have been within the city 
is now almost entirely perished. Considering how all the 
world was spoiled to adorn the city of Constantine, and what 
vast treasures old Rome still possesses, it is remarkable how 
meagre are the Imperial remains of Christian Constantinople. 
But the immediate neighbourhood still recalls the glories of 
what has been, and what might be, a great capital. The 
Bosphorus with its palaces is the very ideal of the suburban 
retreats of an Imperial aristocracy. The walls which still 
surround the city of Stamboul with their threefold circuit, 
broken through and through, overgrown with the rank veget- 
ation of neglected centuries, yet still stand to tell the sad 
story of the twenty-seven times besieged and thrice captured 
city of Constantinople, the fourth city in the world; fourth, 
because second only in importance to Jerusalem, Athens, and 

I need not go further into detail. It has been fully described 
by two of the most remarkable historians of modern times. 
Gibbon has been inspired by it with a new life. Thrice in 
his history he describes it at length, as if he had seen it. The 
greatness of Constantinople forms the centre of the second 
part, almost as much as the fall of Rome of the first part, 
of his majestic work. Von Hammer, author of the " History of 
the Ottoman Empire," has devoted to it an exhaustive treatise, 
such as no other ancient city, except those I have just men- 
tioned, has called forth. 

But the place of Constantinople in the history of the Church 
must be briefly indicated. 

It was the first Christian city. There were the spoils of 
heathenism within it, and there were some of those mixed 
forms of Christianity and of heathenism which I have already 
noticed. But its differences from the old Rome were marked 
by two significant changes of outward feature. Instead of 
temples, it had churches. Except during the short reign 
of Julian, no column of sacrificial smoke has ever gone up 
from the Seven Hills of Constantinople. In the place of the 
amphitheatre of the Colosseum, with its brutal spectacles, 
was the comparatively innocent Hippodrome, with those 
chariot races, of which the blue and green factions even 
interwove themselves with the passions of theological hatred 
and the course of ecclesiastical history. 

2i8 The Emperor Constantine 

It became the metropolitan city of the Eastern Church. 
To it was transferred the pre-eminence of the Apostolic 
see of the neighbouring Ephesus. Before its presence the 
Primacy of the more distant Alexandria died away. Its 
Patriarch was the first to assume, and still exclusively re- 
tains, the title of "(Ecumenical." Its see still bears the 
lofty name of "the Bishopric of New Rome," "the Great 
Church of Christ." 1 Its monasteries and schools became 
the refuge of Christian and secular learning, when the West 
had almost relapsed into barbarism. 

It has been powerfully described, 2 how, when the life of 
Europe would have been arrested under the Latin hierarchy 
but for the intervention of some foreign element, "Greece 
arose from the dead with the New Testament in her hand." 
Most true. But Greece and the Greek Testament were 
preserved for that great crisis by the Empire and Church 
of Constantinople. It may have been a tomb; but in that 
stately tomb the sacred light was kept burning till the 
moment came for it to kindle a new fire elsewhere. To 
the Greek exiles from the fallen city of Constantine we owe the 
purest and the most enduring elements of the Reformation, 
namely, the New Testament in its original language, and 
the revival of Greek learning which gave us critics and 
commentators to unfold its meaning. Long after the effects 
of Luther's work shall have been exhausted, the effects of 
Erasmus's work will remain, and the work of Erasmus, 
humanly speaking, could not have been achieved without 
the scholars of Constantinople. 

3. It is only by the coincidence of dates that we can 
trace any connection between the tragical visit to Rome 
.and the foundation of the Holy Places of Palestine. Yet 
it is so natural a conjecture, that we may at least take 
advantage of it for briefly touching on this aspect of Con- 
stantine's life. If it was not in order to seek expiation 
for her son's crimes, and consolation for her own sorrows, 
that Helena made her famous journey to the Holy Land, 
it was immediately consequent upon them. Of the sacred 
relics which Helena found in Jerusalem, two were specially 
sent to her son : the nails which, as it was believed, had 
fastened the Saviour's hands to the Cross. The use to 

1 See Gregory's Vindication of the Jurisdiction of Constantinople over 
Bulgaria, p. 150. 

2 Lecture on the Study of History, by Professor Goldwin Smith. 

The Emperor Constantine 219 

which he applied them is so like himself and his age, and 
so unlike our own, as to require special notice. One was 
turned into the bit of his war-horse, the other into an 
ornament of his helmet. It is impossible in this appro- 
priation of those sacred fragments not to recognise the 
fierce military Emperor of the old Pagan age, even though 
the Christian historians of the time strove to see in it a 
direct fulfilment of the prophecy, " In that day shall be 
written on the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord." 1 
On the churches erected by Helena's instigation, and at 
Constantine's cost, over the caves at Bethlehem, Olivet, and 
Jerusalem, and on the modern controversy which rages over 
the most sacred of them, I need not dwell here at length. 2 
This pilgrimage was the last act of the Empress Helena. 
She died on her return home, at her birthplace in Asia 
Minor. Rome and Constantinople dispute her remains. 
At Constantinople she was long known simply as " the 
Empress" "Augusta;" and in the Calendar of the Eastern 
Church she and her son are always united. The same 
impulse that led Constantine to adorn the ancient sanctuaries 
of Palestine led him to consecrate new sanctuaries nearer 
to his own city. To him the Eastern Church ascribes the 
honour of the first religious foundations in Mount Athos. 
To have thus fixed on this hitherto unoccupied peninsula 
as the site of institutions so singularly appropriate to the 
scene is a trait worthy of the man who selected Byzantium 
for his capital. 

4. The restoration of Arius and his party was more cer- 
tainly connected with Constantine's crimes. The Princess 
Constantia, whose husband and son had both perished by 
her brother's orders, was now on her deathbed at Nicomedia. 
She entreated to see the Emperor once more. He came; 
and her parting request, backed by the influence of her 
chaplain Eustocius, 3 was that he would recall the Arian 
leaders, and restore unity to the Church and Empire. This 
request fell in with Constantine's own troubled conscience, 
and with his long-cherished desire for the union of the 
different parties in the Church. Amidst the many contra- 
dictions with which the history is here involved, the main 
facts are indisputable. Arius and the Nicomedian Eusebius 

1 Zech. xiv. 20; Theod. I. 38. 

2 See Sinai and Palestine, ch. xiv. 
8 Photius, Biblioth. 661. 

22o The Emperor Constantine 

are recalled. The troubles of Athanasius begin. The Council 
of Tyre, which marked the thirtieth, as the Council of Nicaea 
had marked the twentieth, year of the reign of Constantine, 
marks also the changed relations of parties and events since 
the earlier assembly. Many of the same persons were then 
assembled, but Athanasius was now the defendant instead 
of Arius. Paphnutius and Potammon were there, as before, 
but on the losing side. The hero of the day was no longer 
Hosius or Eustathius, but Eusebius of Cassarea; and under 
his auspices, and those of his partisans on the Arian or semi- 
Arian side, was dedicated the Church of the Holy Sepulchre 
at Jerusalem. It is one of the curious complications of 
ecclesiastical history, that this solemn event should be passed 
over without a word by the orthodox Athanasius, and that 
its only contemporary record should be from the heretic 
Eusebius, who assisted as Metropolitan of Palestine. 

It must have been during this period that Constantine said 
of the Gothic missionary Ulfilas, who had led his people across 
the Danube at the age of twenty-six, " He is the Moses of the 
Goths." l To us who know what these Goths have been to us, 
and what the Bible of Ulfilas was to them, this speech shows 
the same kind of prophetic discrimination which marked the 
choice of Athos and of Constantinople for their respective 
purposes, or the selection of Lactantius to be the preceptor of 
his son, and of Eusebius and Hosius to be his own ecclesias- 
tical advisers. 

The moment at last arrived when the union which the 
Emperor had so much at heart was to be decided. Athana- 
sius was removed from the fury of his enemies by an honour- 
able exile at Treves. Arius was to be received in triumph at 
Constantinople. Such was the Emperor's determination, and 
it is characteristic of the position which he occupied in the 
Church, that in spite of the reluctance of the Orthodox party 
to acknowledge the heretic, yet there seemed to them no 
alternative but to obey. " Let me or Arius die before to- 
morrow," was the prayer of Alexander, the Bishop of Con- 
stantinople. That there was the third course of refusing to 
admit him never seems to have occurred to any one, after the 
Emperor's will had been made known. It is one of the few 
occasions in history where a difficult crisis has been solved by 
an unexpected death. That the sudden illness and decease of 

1 Philostorgius, ii. 5. For his general mission see Lecture IX. 

The Emperor Constantine 221 

the aged Arms was a Divine judgment in behalf of the doctrine 
which he had opposed, will now be held by no one who has 
any regard to the warnings of Christ Himself against any such 
inference. That it was the effect of poison, is contradicted by 
the actual circumstances of his end. Like most ecclesiastical 
wonders of this kind, it was neither a miracle nor a crime ; it 
was a natural coincidence, and no more. 

It was, however, the passing away of one of the chief actors 
in the Council of Nicsea ; and now was come the end of the 
chiefest of all. There is no act of the life of Constantine so 
deeply instructive as his death. 

It was Easter, in the year 337. In the Church of the 
Apostles at Constantinople he had passed the night, with more 
than his usual devotion, in preparation for his Persian expedi- 
tion. An illness supervened ; he went to Helenopolis to try 
the mineral waters in the neighbourhood. The illness in- 
creased; a sinister suspicion 1 of poison stole through the 
palace. He felt that it was mortal, and now at last he 
determined on taking the step, long delayed, but not yet 
impossible, of admission to the Christian Church. 

Incredible as it may seem to our notions, he who had five 
and twenty years ago been convinced of the Christian faith ; 
he who had opened the first General Council of the Church ; he 
who had called himself a Bishop of Bishops ; he who had 
joined in the deepest discussions of theology ; he who 
had preached to rapt audiences; he who had established 
Christianity as the religion of the empire ; he who had been 
considered by Christian bishops an inspired oracle and apostle 
of Christian wisdom, 2 was himself not yet received into the 
Christian Church. He was not yet baptised ; he had not even 
been received as a catechumen. A death-bed baptism was to 
the half-converted Christians of that age, what a deathbed 
communion often is to those of our own. In later ages, as we 
have seen, it was endeavoured to antedate the baptism of the 
Emperor by ten or twenty years. But at that time it was too 
common to attract any special notice. Good and bad motives 
alike conduced to the same end, and of all of these Constantine 
was a complete example. He, like many of his countrymen, 
as has been indicated, united, after his conversion, a sincere 
belief in Christianity with a lingering attachment to Paganism. 
He, like some even of the noblest characters in the Christian 

1 Philost. ii. 4. 2 Eus. Laud. Const, c. 2, 11. 

222 The Emperor Constantine 

Church, regarded baptism, much as the Pagans regarded the 
lustrations and purifications of their own religion, as a complete 
obliteration and expiation of all former sins ; and therefore, 
partly from a superstitious dread, partly from the prudential 
desire, not peculiar to that or any age, " of making the best of 
both worlds," he would naturally defer the ceremony to the 
moment when it would include the largest amount of the past, 
and leave the smallest amount of the future. To him, as to all 
Christians of those times, baptism still preserved much of its 
original significance, which it has inevitably lost in the course 
of ages. It was still regarded as the solemn passage from one 
state of life to another ; from the darkness and profligacy of 
the heathen world to the light and the purity of the Christian 
society ; a step taken not as the natural accompaniment of 
birth and education, but as a serious pledge of conviction and 
of profession. The baptism of infants, no doubt, prevailed, just 
as the communion of infants prevailed also. But each of the 
sacraments must often have been deferred to a time when the 
candidates could give their whole minds to the subject. If, 
even a century later, such men as Ambrose and Augustine, 
born in Christian families, and with a general belief in the 
main truths of Christianity, were still unbaptised, the one in his 
thirty- fourth, the other in his thirty-second year, we may be 
sure that the practice was sufficiently common in the far more 
unsettled age of Constantine, to awaken no scruple in him, and 
to provoke no censure from his ecclesiastical advisers. 

The whole event is related in the utmost detail In the 
Church at Helenopolis, in the unusual posture of devotion, 
that of kneeling, he was admitted to be a catechumen by 
the imposition of hands. He then moved to a palace in the 
suburb of Nicomedia, and then calling the Bishops around 
him, amongst whom the celebrated Arian, Eusebius, was chief, 
announced that once he had hoped to receive the purification of 
baptism, after our Saviour's example, in the streams of the 
Jordan ; but God's will seemed to be that it should be here, 
and he therefore requested to receive the rite without delay. 
"And so," says his biographer, "alone of Roman Emperors 
from the beginning of time, was Constantine consecrated to be 
a witness of Christ in the second birth of baptism." The 
Imperial purple was at last removed ; he was clothed instead 
in robes of dazzling whiteness; his couch was covered with 
white also : in the white robes of baptism, on a white death- 
bed, he lay, in expectation of his end. If the strict doctrine of 

The Emperor Constantine 223 

Athanasius were pressed, Constantine even at this moment 
failed of his wishes ; for his baptism was from the hands of an 
Arian Bishop, which, according to Athanasius, 1 was no baptism 
at all . But these theories are happily never pressed home to- 
individuals. Constantine's baptism has always been con- 
sidered as valid both in the East and West. The Arian 
baptism and the " Orthodox " canonisation must be left to 
neutralise each other. One act he is said to have performed 
on his deathbed, which raises him above the sphere of both 
parties. In spite of the opposition of Eusebius, 2 he ordered 
the recall of the exiled Athanasius ; and thus, as Theodoret 
observes, illustrated in his last hours the sacred but often 
forgotten duty of turning one of our two ears to hear the side 
of the accused party. The Arian influence, though it was 
enough to make him content with Arian consolations and Arian 
sacraments, was not enough to make him refuse justice at that 
supreme moment to the oppressed chief of the opposite party. 

His own delight at the accomplishment of the ceremony was- 
excessive ; and when the officers of his army entered the 
chamber of death, with bitter lamentations, to make their last 
farewell, he bade them rejoice in his speedy departure heaven- 
wards. He gave his will into the custody of the Arian chap- 
lain Eustocius, who had consoled the last hours of his sister 
Constantia, with orders that it should be given to his son 
Constantius. 3 At noon on Whit-Sunday, the 22nd of May, ir* 
the sixty-fourth year of his age, and the thirty-first of his reign, 
he expired. A wild wail of grief arose from the army and the 
people, on hearing that Constantine was dead. The body was- 
laid out in a coffin of gold, and carried by a procession of the 
whole army, 4 headed by his son Constans, to Constantinople. 
For three months it lay there in state in the palace, lights- 
burning round, and guards watching. During all this time the 
Empire was without a head. Conslans, the youngest son,, 
was there alone. The two elder sons had not arrived. He was 
still "Augustus." All went on as though he were yet alive. 
One dark-shadow from the great tragedy of his life reached to 
his last end, and beyond it. It is said that the Bishop of 
Nicomedia, to whom the Emperor's will had been confided by 
Eustocius, alarmed at its contents, immediately placed it for 
security in the dead man's hand, wrapped in the vestments of 
death. There it lay till Constantius arrived, and read his 

1 Ath. Orat. c. Ar. i. 42, 43. 2 Theod. i. 31. 

8 Soc. i. 39. * Theod. i. 32. 

224 The Emperor Constantine 

father's dying bequest. It was believed to express the 
Emperor's conviction that he had been poisoned by his 
brothers and their children, 1 and to call on Constantius to 
avenge his death. That bequest was obeyed by the massacre 
of six out of the surviving princes of the Imperial family. Two 
alone escaped. With such a mingling of light and darkness 
did Constantine close his career. 

When the tidings reached Rome, the old metropolis steadily 
ignored the revolution that had passed over the world in the 
person of the deceased Emperor. He was regarded but as 
one in the series of the Caesars. He was enrolled, like his 
predecessors, as a matter of course, amongst the gods of the 
heathen Olympus. Incense was offered before his statue. A 
picture of his apotheosis was prepared. Festivals were 
celebrated in his honour. 2 

But in his own Christian city of Constantinople he had 
himself arranged the altered celebration of his death. Not 
amongst the gods and heroes of heathenism, but amongst those 
who now seemed to him the nearest approach to them, the 
Christian Apostles, his lot was to be cast. He had prepared 
for his mausoleum a church, sometimes, like that which he had 
founded at Rome, called " the Church of S. Peter," 3 but more 
usually "the Church of the Apostles," or by a name truly 
indicating the mixture of Pagan and Christian ideas which led 
to its erection, the " Herod n" Twelve pillars commemorated 
them, six on each side, and between them was his own tomb. 
He would not be " Divus ; " he would be " Isapostolos " (equal 
to the Apostles). This is .the title by which he is canonised, 
and this title expresses the precise point of transition from the 
old to the new religion. 

Thither the body was borne. 4 Constantius was now present j 
and as it reached the church the Prince (for he too was still an 
unbaptised catechumen) withdrew with the Pagan guards, and 
left the Imperial corpse alone, as it lay aloft in the centre of the 
church in its sarcophagus of porphyry. 5 Prayers were offered 
for his soul ; he was placed amongst the Apostles ; and he 
formally received the names which he had borne in life, and 
which then became so purely personal that they descended to 
his sons, " Victor, Maximus, Augustus." 

1 Philost. ii. 1 8. 2 See Beugnot, Hist, du Paganisme. 

3 Chrysost, Horn. 26 on 2 Cor. 4 See Theod. i. 34. 

5 Cedrenus, i. 519. Chrysostom (Horn. 26 on 2 Cor.) says that the coffin 
was in the vestibule, to show his inferiority to the Apostles. 

The Emperor Constantine 225 

" If any one doubts what I have said of him," says Theodoret, 
" let him look at what is still done at his sepulchre and his 
statue." Lights were burned before him ; prayers were offered 
up to him ; miracles believed to be wrought by him. 1 So 
passionate was the attachment of the people of Constantinople 
to the tomb of their founder, that the attempt to remove it for 
safety to another church whilst its own was being repaired, 
provoked a sanguinary riot. 2 

The church became the burial-place of the Byzantine 
Emperors. 3 There they all lay in Imperial state till in the 
fourth crusade the coffins were rifled and the bodies cast out. 4 
The church itself remained till the capture of the city by 
Mahomet II., 5 on whom its ancient associations had still so 
much power that, though he destroyed it, he built close upon 
its site the magnificent mosque which bears his name, and in 
which he himself is buried, th<; founder of the second series of 
Byzantine sovereigns, as Constantine had been of the first. 6 

So passed away the first Christian Emperor, the first Defender 
of the Faith the first Imperial patron of the Papal see, and of 
the whole Eastern Church, the first founder of the Holy 
Places, Pagan and Christian, orthodox and heretical, liberal 
and fanatical, not to be imitated or admired, but much to be 
remembered, and deeply to be studied. 

1 See Philost. ii. 19 and notes. 2 Soc. ii. 38. 

3 The bodies of S. Andrew and S. Timotheus and S. Luke were trans- 
ported thither to increase its sanctity. Philost. iii. 2. 

4 Theod. i. 34. A sarcophagus, called "of Constantine," still remains 
in the Museum in the Seraglio. 

5 Von Hammer, i. 390. 6 Ibid. 387, 400. 


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THE authorities for the Life of Athanasius are as follows : 

I. Ancient. 

1. Works of S. Athanasius (especially the Historical Tracts, 

with the learned annotations of Dr. Newman). 

2. Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, Rufinus. 

3. 2 ist Oration of S. Gregory Nazianzen. 

4. Letters of S. Basil. 

II. Of the Modern may be selected : 

1. Tillemont. (vol. viii.) 

2. Mohler. (" Athanasius, the Great : " German and French.) 

3. Bishop Kaye. (Some Account of the Writings of Athanasius :" 

appended to the work cited p. 98.) 

As the life of Constantine represents what may be called the 
secular and Imperial aspect of the Church of the fourth century, 
and of the Eastern Church generally, so its ecclesiastical and 
theological aspect is represented in the life of Athanasius. 
Like Constantine, although in a less degree, he presents to us 
one of those mixed characters which require such powers of 
discrimination as, in the study of ecclesiastical history, are at 
least as important as the powers of unbounded admiration or 
unmeasured invective. He also exhibits the peculiar tendencies 
of his age and Church, in forms more likely to impress them- 
selves on our memory than we could find in any other 
ecclesiastic of the Eastern Church, with the single exception of 
Chrysostom. And his course is so much the more significant 
than that of Chrysostom, as it includes a wider range of events 
and involves far more lasting consequences. As in the case 
of Constantine, I shall take for granted a general knowledge of 
the history of Athanasius, and shall dwell only on those points 
which bring out clearly the sentiments of the time, the impres- 
sions which he made on his contemporaries, and the permanent 
examples and warnings that he has left to the Church. What 
is thus to be noticed may be placed under three heads : 

I. His connection with the Church of Egypt, including his 
early life and episcopal career. 

II. His contests with the Emperors, including the chief 
actions of his middle life and his general character. 


228 Athanasius 

III. His peculiarities as a theologian, including also the 
close of his course. 

I. He is the most remarkable representative of the Church 
of Egypt. So he is still regarded by the Coptic Church, and so 
he must have been at the time. What his own race and lineage 
may have been it is difficult to determine. We know that he 
himself wrote and spoke in Greek, but he also was able to 
converse in Coptic. His personal appearance throws but little 
light on this question. He was of very small stature, a dwarf 
rather than a man (so we know from the taunt of Julian) ; l 
but, as we are assured by Gregory Nazianzen, of almost angelic 
beauty of face and expression. 2 To this tradition adds that he 
had a slight stoop in his figure ; a hooked nose, and small 
mouth ; a short beard, which spread out into large whiskers ; 
and light auburn hair. 3 This last characteristic has been found 
on the heads of Egyptian mummies, 4 and therefore is com- 
patible with a pure Egyptian descent. His name might seem 
to indicate a Grecian parentage ; but the case of " Antony," 
who was an undoubted Copt, shows that this cannot be relied 

His first appearance is in a well-known story, 5 which, though 
doubted in later times from its supposed incongruity with 
the dignity of a great saint, has every indication of truth. 6 
Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, was entertaining his clergy in 
a tower or lofty house overlooking the expanse of sea beside the 
westernmost of the two Alexandrian harbours. He observed a 
group of children playing on the edge of the shore, 7 and was 
struck by the grave appearance of their game. His attendant 
clergy went, at his orders, to catch the boys and bring them 
before the Bishop, who taxed them with having played at 
religious ceremonies. At first, like boys caught at a mischievous 
game, they denied : but, at last, confessed that they had been 

1 Ep. 51 : jiMj 

2 Orat. xxi. 9. 3 Acta Sanctorum, May 2, c. 33. 

4 Morton, Crania Hieroglyphica, 4to, p. 22 ; and the account of a 
mummy unrolled by Mr. Birch of the British Museum. 

5 Rufinus ; Socrates ; Sozomen. 

6 The chronological difficulty of the day on which the event occurred is 
not material. 

7 The mention of the Patriarchal residence, which was at Baucalis (see 
p. 130), and of the beach on the shore, which, in the great harbour of 
Alexandria, was completely covered with quays and colonnades, fixes the 
scene of this incident to the present harbour, called " Eunostus" in ancient 

Athanasius 229 

imitating the sacrament of baptism ; that one of them had been 
selected to perform the part of Bishop, and that he had duly 
dipped them in the sea, with all the proper questions and 
addresses. When Alexander found that these forms had been 
observed, he determined that the baptism was valid ; he himself 
added the consecrating oil of confirmation ; and was so much 
struck with the knowledge and gravity of the boy-bishop that he 
took him under his charge. This little boy was Athanasius ; 
already showing the union of seriousness and sport which we 
shall see in his after life. That childish game is an epitome of 
the ecclesiastical feelings of his time and of his country. The 
children playing on the shore, the old men looking at them 
with interest ; these, indeed, are incidents which belong to 
every age of the world. But only in the early centuries could 
have been found the immersion of the baptised, the necessity 
of a Bishop to perform the ceremony, the mixture of freedom 
and superstition which could regard as serious a sacrament so 
lightly performed. In the Coptic Church is there the best like- 
ness of this Eastern reverence for the sacred acts of children. 
A child still draws the lots in the Patriarchal elections. By 
children is still performed the greater part of their innocent 
childlike services. 

From this incident arose the connection of Athanasius with 
the aged Alexander. He became his Archdeacon, an office 
very different from that which is called by the same name 
amongst ourselves. It was then literally what the word implies, 
"the chief of the deacons," the head of that body of deacons 
whose duty it is to attend upon the Bishop. Of this kind is 
the office which still bears the name in the Eastern Church, 
and which is rendered illustrious to Eastern Christians by the 
two great names of " Archdeacon Stephen " and " Archdeacon 
Athanasius." It was in this capacity that he followed his 
Bishop to the Council of Nicaea, and defended the Orthodox 
cause with an energy which already awakened the jealousy and 
the admiration of all who heard him. 1 In a few weeks after 
the close of the Council Alexander died, and Athanasius 
succeeded to the vacant see. It was a marked epoch, in 
every sense, for the Egyptian Primacy. Down to this time 
(according to the tradition of the Alexandrian Church itself) 2 

1 See Lecture III. 

2 Jerome speaks of the custom as having lasted only till the Bishops 
Heraclas and Dionysius (Ep. ad Evangel. 85). But the tradition of the 
Alexandrian Church, as preserved in Eutychius (i. 331), maintained that it 

230 Athanasius 

the election to this great post had been conducted in a manner 
unlike that of the other sees of Christendom. Not the Bishop, 
but twelve Presbyters, were the electors, and nominators, 1 and 
{according to Eutychius) consecrators. It was on the death 
of Alexander that this ancient custom was exchanged for one 
more nearly resembling that which prevailed elsewhere. Fifty 
Bishops of the neighbouring dioceses were convened for the 
first time, and proceeded to the election. Athanasius had 
been named both by the dying Primate and by the people 
as the new Bishop. He, setting an example which has since 
become a fixed rule in the Coptic Church, endeavoured to 
escape election by concealment or absence. To this day the 
formalities which accompany the election of his successors in 
the see of Alexandria are intended to indicate the same 
reluctance. The future Patriarch is brought to Cairo, loaded 
with chains and strictly guarded, as if to prevent the possibility 
of escape. 

According to the Arian tradition, the Bishops were assembled 
in great numbers, when Athanasius suddenly appeared late in 
the evening, secured two of the Bishops within the church of 
S. Dionysius, barricaded the building against the majority 
outside, and so, in spite of their remonstrances, and even 
anathemas, was consecrated ; and afterwards, as if by a letter 
from the municipality of Alexandria, procured the Imperial 
confirmation of the act. 2 The extraordinary and mysterious 
circumstances, which on any hypothesis attended the appoint- 
ment of Athanasius, may account for the variations in the history. 

Alexandria had already numbered many famous theologians 
in her catechetical school, but, with the exception perhaps of 
Dionysius, Athanasius was her first distinguished Bishop, the 
first who in power and character was worthy of the situation. 

The see of Alexandria was then the most important in the 
whole Church. Alexandria, till the rise of Constantinople, 
was the most powerful city in the East. The prestige of its 
founder still clung to it. 3 

lasted till Alexander. The change which he ascribes to Heraclas is another, 
which may have led to Jerome's statement ; viz. that down to that time 
there had been no Bishop in Egypt except the Bishop of Alexandria. The 
whole question is well set forth in Le Quien, Oriens Christianus, ii. 342. 

1 "Nominabant" is the word used by Jerome. This, though it does 
not contradict, does not necessarily imply the more detailed account which 
Eutychius gives of the actual imposition of hands and blessing. 

2 Philost. ii. 11. 

8 Julian, Ep. 51. Com p. Sharpe's Egypt, c. 16. 

Athanasius 231 

Egypt, even in the Pagan parts of the Empire, was still 
regarded as the ancient nurse of religious mysteries, and the 
possession of the Temple of Serapis made Alexandria 
the chief sanctuary of Egypt. The Alexandrian Church was the 
only great seat of Christian learning. Its episcopate was 
" the Evangelical see," 1 as founded by the Evangelist S. Mark. 
"The chair of S. Mark" was, as it still is, the name of the 
Patriarchal throne of Egypt. Its occupant, as we have seen, 
was the only potentate of the time who bore the name of 
" Pope." 2 After the Council of Nicaea he became the " Judge 
of the World," from his decisions respecting the celebration of 
Easter ; 3 and the obedience paid to his judgment in all matters 
of learning, secular and sacred, almost equalled that paid in 
later days to the ecclesiastical authority of the Popes of the 
West. The "head of the Alexandrian Church," says Gregory 
Nazianzen, 4 " is the head of the world." 

In his own province his jurisdiction was even more extensive 
than that of the Roman Pontiff. The Episcopate of Egypt, 
which had but a doubtful existence in early times, always 
remained subordinate to the Alexandrian Patriarch, beyond 
what was the case in any Church of the West. Not only did 
he consecrate all the Bishops throughout his diocese, but no 
other Bishop had an independent power of ordination. The 
Egyptian Bishops at Chalcedon protested with tears and cries, 
that, till a Patriarch was given them, they were powerless to do 
anything commanded by the Council. 5 

In civil affairs the chief of the Alexandrian Church carried 
himself almost like a sovereign prince. " At a distance from 
court, and at the head of an immense capital, the Patriarch 
of Alexandria had gradually usurped the state and authority of 
a civil magistrate, . . . and the Prefects of Egypt were awed 
or provoked by the Imperial power of these Christian Pontiffs." 6 

Not only in name and office, however, but in fact, Athanasius 
was the representative of the Egyptian Church. 

i. In his Pontificate the Church of Alexandria received its 
only important accession. A traveller presented himself from 
the distant and then almost unknown Abyssinia. His story 
was simple and touching. It was one of the earliest instances 
of a Christian mission following in the wake of scientific 
discovery. A philosopher of Tyre, Moripius by name, had 

1 Neale's History of Alexandrian Church, i. 6. 

2 Lecture III. 3 Neale, i. 113. 4 Orat. 21. 
8 Neale, i. in, 112. 6 Gibbon, c. xlvii. ; Neale, i. 112. 

232 Athanasius 

embarked on a voyage of investigation down the Red Sea. 
He had taken with him two children, relations of his own, 
to teach on the journey. On his return the vessel touched 
for water at a port of Ethiopia. The savage inhabitants 
attacked them and massacred all the crew. The two boys, 
Frumentius and Edesius, faithful to the purpose for which 
they had been brought, were sitting under a tree by the 
sea-shore, learning their lessons. The savages were touched 
by the sight, took them to the king of the country, where they 
gradually rose into his confidence and that of his widow, as 
the instructors of his son. When the prince came of age, the 
two Christians returned. But Frumentius (like an earlier 
Livingstone), determined to bring news of this opening for 
Christianity to the great centre of Christian civilisation, un- 
folded his tidings to Athanasius, and then, layman and stranger 
as he was, was at once consecrated to the episcopate. 

He returned, and under his new name of Salama became 
the founder of the Church of Abyssinia. 

" Hail him with the voice of joy, 

Sing praises to Salama ; 
The door of pity, of mercy, 
And of pleasant grace." 1 

2. There was another offshoot of the Coptic Church with 
which Athanasius was in the closest relations. Egypt was the 
parent of monachism, and the monks and Athanasius were 
inseparable allies. In his early youth he had been himself for 
a short time a hermit. In later life he poured forth to them 
the news of the outer world. Of Antony, the founder of the 
monastic system, he was the bosom friend and biographer. 
He had often sought him out in the desert waste, and 
according to the practice still pursued in the East, as a 
mark of deference from an inferior to a superior (as in the 
case of Elisha and Elijah), poured water over his hands as 
he washed. 2 

Antony, though unable to speak Greek, or to read or write, 8 
entered with the liveliest interest into the theological con- 
troversies of the young Bishop. In the most critical moment 
of the struggle of Athanasius, he appeared suddenly in 
Alexandria to give the sanction of his mysterious presence. 
Heathens, as well as Christians, ran to see " the man of God," 4 

1 Harris, Highlands of Ethiopia, iii. 89. 2 Vit. Ant. Praef. 

8 Vit. Ath. 74, 75. 4 Vit. Ant. 70. 

Athanasius 233 

as he was called. Athanasius escorted him to the gate of the 
city as he departed. 

In the next generation the attachment of the monks of 
the desert to the see of Alexandria became a fixed political 
institution, like the armed military orders of the middle ages, 
like the Jesuits in the sixteenth century. But in the time of 
Athanasius, it was the innocent, natural, enthusiastic devotion 
of man to man, friend to friend, disciple to teacher, and 
teacher to disciple. Paul, the companion of Antony, wished 
to be buried in the mantle given by Athanasius to Antony, 
in order to assure himself that he had died in communion 
with Athanasius. Ammon, the Egyptian monk, accompanied 
Athanasius to Rome, and astonished every one by the eager- 
ness with which, regardless of all the other wonders of the 
great city, he ran, like a dervish of the present day, to throw 
himself before the tombs of S. Peter and S. Paul. 

In the caves of the hermits, along the banks of the Nile, 
Athanasius was received whenever his residence in the capital 
was rendered insecure. As he approached, and saw the 
innumerable crowds issuing from their cells, he burst forth 
into the Prophet's exclamation : " Who are these that fly as 
a cloud, and as doves to their cotes?" whilst they, with 
thousands of blazing torches, their Abbot leading his ass, 
escorted him to their impregnable retreats. 1 

3. There was yet a third close bond of connection between 
Athanasius and the Coptic Church. The Arian party at 
Alexandria was essentially Greek. The Orthodox party, or, 
as it was called by its enemies, the Sabellian, and afterwards 
the Eutychian, party, was essentially national. " S. Chrysostom," 
as it has been truly said, "could never have been a Monophysite, 
nor S. Cyril a Nestorian." 2 

To this national or Egyptian party belonged the great body 
of the hermits and monks, who, as their names and their 
ignorance of Greek indicate, were genuine Copts. To this 
party belonged the Christian populace of Alexandria. Of 
this party, or rather nation, Athanasius was the representative ; 
and to him and to his doctrine the nation clung with a tenacity 
which went on increasing with the lapse of years. The Imperial 
Government at Constantinople, with its Greek adherents at 
Alexandria, was gradually set more and more at defiance. 

When the Council of Chalcedon condemned what the 

1 Vit. Pachom. (quoted in Vit. Ath., Opp. i. p. Ixxiv.) 
* Neale, Alex. Church, i. 36. 

I 2 

234 Athanasius 

Egyptian Church believed to be a legitimate inference from 
the doctrine of Athanasius, 1 the breach was final. The adher- 
ents of the Council were contemptuously called Synodites or 
Imperialists. The Egyptian Church, with its sister communions 
in Syria, gloried in the exclusive title of Orthodox. 2 Rather 
than be reconciled to the heterodox adherents of the Empire 
(as it deemed the Greek Church to be), it surrendered itself 
and them into the hands of the Saracens. To this day the 
old feud still continues. Their hatred of the Greek Church 
makes them of all Christian Churches the most intolerant of 
other Christians. They will never intermarry with them. 
They prefer Mahometanism. The whole Nubian Church 
became Moslem, rather than join the Church of Constantinople. 3 

Thus strong was the union of religious and national feeling 
which already in his lifetime rallied round Athanasius, and 
assisted in making him formidable to his opponents. No 
fugitive Stuart in the Scottish Highlands could count more 
securely on the loyalty of his subjects, than did Athanasius 
in his hiding-places in Egypt count upon the faithfulness and 
secresy of his countrymen. Sometimes it was the hermits 
who afforded him shelter in their rocky fastnesses ; sometimes 
his fellow-townsmen supported him as he lay hid in his father's 
tomb outside the walls of their city; sometimes it was the 
beautiful Alexandrian maiden, who, in her old age, delighted 
to tell how, when he had suddenly appeared at midnight 
wrapped in his short tunic and red cloak, she had concealed 
and tended him in her house, with provisions and books, till 
he was able, as suddenly, to reappear amongst his astonished 
friends. 4 His whole course was that of an adventurous and 
wandering prince, rather than of a persecuted theologian ; and, 
when in the brief intervals of triumph he was enabled to return 
to his native city, his entrance was like that of a Sovereign 
rather than of a Prelate. 

One such scene, thoroughly Egyptian in character, is 
recorded by Gregory Nazianzen, which lingered in the re- 
collections of all who had seen it, as the most splendid 

1 In the treatise of Athanasius quoted by Cyril (Athan. ii. i), the single 
nature of Christ is expressly asserted. Its genuineness has on this account 
been vehemently questioned, but apparently with no other reason against 
it. (See Robertson's History of the Church, i. 436. ) 

2 See the history of John of Ephesus, passim. 

8 Lane's Modern Egyptians, ii. 312, 333 ; Harris's Ethiopia, iii. 68. 
4 Palladius, c. 135, 150. Athanasius told her that he was directed to 
ber by a special revelation. See p. 243. 

Athanasius 235 

spectacle of the age. It seems to have been his first return 
after the death of Constantine. There was more than delight; 
there was awe, almost amounting to consternation, at the 
greatness of the event. The population of Alexandria poured 
forth, as was their habit on such occasions, not in the indis- 
criminate confusion of a modern populace, but in a certain 
stateliness of arrangement. Each trade and profession kept 
its own place. The men and women, as in Oriental countries, 
were apart. The children formed a mass by themselves. As 
the mighty stream rolled out of the gates, it was (this was the 
truly Egyptian figure that suggested itself) as if the Nile, at 
the height of its flood, scattering fertility as it went, had turned 
in its course and flowed backwards from Alexandria towards 
the first outpost of the city. As now, so then, the usual mode 
of moving to and fro along the roads of Egypt was on asses. 
Gregory, as he describes Athanasius so approaching, is carried 
into an extravagance of comparison and of symbolism. He 
thinks of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem ; he thinks that 
the asses typified the heathen population whom Athanasius 
had loosed from their ignorance. Branches of trees were 
waved aloft; carpets of all the gayest colours and richest 
textures of Alexandria were spread under his feet. There was 
a long unbroken shout of applause; thousands of hands clapped 
with delight ; the air was scented with the fragrant ointments 
poured out ; the city at night flashed with illuminations ; 
public and private entertainments were given in every house. 
In a wild enthusiasm of devotion, women became nuns, men 
became hermits; children entreated their parents, parents 
urged their children, to sacrifice themselves to the monastic 
life. 1 In a still nobler sense of a Christian revival, the hungry 
and the orphans were sheltered and maintained, and every 
household by its devotion seemed to be transformed into 
a Church. 2 

Long afterwards when a popular Prefect of Alexandria was 
received with vast enthusiasm, and two bystanders were com- 
paring -it with all possible demonstrations that they could 
imagine, and the younger had said : " Even if the Emperor 
Constantius 3 himself were to come, he could not be so 
received;" the elder replied with a smile, and an Egyptian 
oath : " Do you call that a wonderful sight ? The only thing 

1 Greg. Nazianz. 28. 2 Ath. Hist. Arian. 25. 

3 Greg. Nazianz. 29. This expression shows that the return spoken 
of was that after Constantine's death. 



to which you ought to compare it is the reception of the great 

II. This leads us to the second aspect in which we must 
consider the life of Athanasius. It is not merely as the 
Egyptian, saint, but as the antagonist of the whole Church 
and Empire of the time, that his career has been invested 
with such singular interest, as that, of all the saints of the 
early Church, he is the only one who has actually kindled 
the cold and critical pages of Gibbon into a fire of enthusiasm. 

He had, as we have seen, the support of his own party and 
his own nation behind him. Still it is evident that he was 
one of those strong characters who render to others a stronger 
support than others can ever render to them. 

In the Nicene Council l he had almost stood alone against 
the majority, which, in spite of his remonstrances, received 
the Melitians. In the events which occupied the rest of his 
life, he was almost the only high ecclesiastic who stood firm 
against the Arians. We must bear in mind how completely 
the Arian party had taken possession of the court, the dig- 
nities, even the Councils, of the time. Such rapid revolutions 
in the decline and rise of theological parties in royal or 
popular favour are amongst the most usual phenomena of 
all ecclesiastical history. And it is by its solitary protest 
against subservience to the religious fashion of the age, that 
the life of Athanasius has acquired a proverbial significance, 
which cannot be too often impressed on theological students. 
" Scripture," it has been well said, " nowhere leads us to . 
suppose that the circumstance of all men speaking well of us 
is any ground for supposing that we are acceptable in the 
sight of God. The jealousy or fear of some, the reticence 
of others, the terrorism of a few, have really nothing to do 
with the questions at issue in theological controversy. They 
cannot have the slightest influence on the meaning of words*, 
or on the truth of facts. There is a deeper work for theo- 
logians, which is not dependent on the opinions of men, and 
which can hardly expect to win much popular favour, so far 
as it runs counter to the feelings of religious parties. But he 
who bears a part in it may feel a confidence which no popular 
caresses or religious sympathy could inspire, that he has, by 
a Divine help, been enabled to plant his foot somewhere 
beyond the waves of time." 2 

1 See Lecture V. p. 179. 

z This striking passage, from the Essay of Professor Jowett, on the 

Athanasius 237 

This, whether we agree or whether we disagree with the 
objects of Athanasius, is the permanent lesson which his life 
teaches. It is the same as that which we are taught by the 
life of Elijah in the history of the Jewish Church, and by 
the lives of some of the early Reformers in the Christian 
Church. It is the special point which Hooker 1 has brought 
out in the splendid passage which, though well known, I 
cannot forbear to quote, as giving in a short compass the 
events of the period in the life of Athanasius, during which 
the doctrine of the Arians had become the religion of the 
Government and of the Church : 

" Athanasius, by the space of forty-six years, from the time 
of his consecration till the last hour of his life in this world, 
they never suffered to enjoy the comfort of a peaceable day. 
The heart of Constantine stolen from him ; Constantius his 
scourge and torment by all the ways that malice, armed with 
sovereign authority, could devise and use; under Julian no 
rest given him ; and in the days of Valens as little. Crimes 
there were laid to his charge many. . . . His judges were 
evermore the self-same men by whom his accusers were 
suborned. . . . Those Bishops and Prelates who should have 
counted his cause theirs . . . were sure by bewraying their 
affection towards him to bring upon themselves those male- 
dictions whereby, if they would riot be drawn to seem his 
adversaries, yet others should be taught how unsafe it was 
to continue his friends. Whereupon it came to pass in the 
end that (very few excepted) all became subject to the sway 
of time ; saving only that some fell away sooner, some later ; 
. . . some were leaders in the host, . . . and the rest . . . 
either yielding through fear, or brought under with penury, 
or by flattery ensnared, or else beguiled through simplicity, 
which is the fairest excuse that well may be made for them. 
. . . Such was the stream of those times that all men gave 
place unto it. ... Only of Athanasius there was nothing 
observed through that long tragedy, other than such as very 
well became a wise man to do, and a righteous to suffer. So 
that this was the plain condition of those times; the whole 
world against Athanasius^ and Athanasius against it. Half 
a hundred years spent in doubtful trial, which of the two in 
the end would prevail; the side which had all, or else the 

Interpretation of Scripture, was written, I believe, in allusion to the 
lamented preacher and theologian, Mr. Robertson of Brighton. 
1 Eccl. Pol. ii. pp. 162-165. 

238 Athanasius 

part which had no friend but God and death ; the one a 
defender of his innocency, the other a finisher of his troubles." 
It is probably from the Latin version of this celebrated passage, 
that we derive the proverb, Athanasius contra mundum ; a 
proverb which, as I have observed on other occasions, well 
sets forth the claims of individual, private, solitary judgment, 
against the claims of general authority as set forth in the 
other equally well-known maxim, Quod semper, quod ubique, 
quod ab omnibus. It is a proverb which, though few are 
worthy to claim for themselves, yet all may well take to heart 
as a warning against confounding popularity with truth, or 
isolation with heresy, or temporary depression with lasting 

The contest successively waged with Constantine, Constan- 
tius, Julian, and Valens, has been briefly and powerfully told 
by Gibbon, and elaborately worked out by Tillemont. Its 
details are as tedious and complicated, as its general interest 
is exciting and instructive. 

But there are a few points which may be selected as 
characteristic either of the man or the age. 

1. His contest with the Imperial power, and the long 
struggles which it cost the successive Emperors to cope with 
him, are proofs of the freedom and independence of the 
Christian Church, in the midst of the general decay of those 
qualities in all the other institutions of the Empire. 

The general effect of this new principle 1 of life in insti- 
tutions of the Church has been already pointed out ; but of 
individual instances of this new and disturbing force, which 
would never again let the world subside into its dull stagna- 
tion and inaction, Athanasius is the first grand example. The 
" meddling demagogue," 2 " the odious Athanasius," 3 " the 
audacious conspirator, elated by his characteristic rashness," 4 
are the expressions by which Julian designates his rival in 
Egypt. "Although," says Gibbon, "his mind was tainted 
by the contagion of fanaticism, Athanasius displayed a superi- 
ority of character and abilities which would have fitted him 
far better than the degenerate sons of Constantine for the 
government of a great monarchy." 5 

2. The contest, however, did not resemble those which in 
the middle ages set the spiritual against the civil authority. 

1 See Lecture II. p. 108. 2 Julian, Ep. 51. 

3 Ibid. 6. 4 Ibid. 26. 

6 Decline and Fall, iii. 355. 

Athanasius 239 

In this respect Athanasius strictly preserves the character of 
the Oriental hierarchy, 1 which I have more than once noticed. 
The spiritual and the secular were hardly ever, as such, 
directly opposed. 2 During the whole of the first part of the 
quarrel, nothing can exceed the deference of Athanasius to the 
Imperial authority; and the subsequent vehemence of his 
language is personal, rather than official. The accusations 
against him were also personal. It was not for heresy or 
orthodoxy that he was convened before the Council of Tyre, 
but for the murder of Arsenius, for breaking a sacred chalice, 
for imposing a tax on sacred vestments, for conspiring against 
the Emperor, for consecrating a church without the Emperor's 
permission, for preventing the exportation of com from Alex- 
andria (a purely Egyptian charge) ; for procuring his rein- 
statement from an Imperial decree, after his deposition by 
a Council ; for refusing to leave Alexandria without an express 
command from the Emperor ; for corresponding with the rebel 
chief Magnentius. All of these charges were repudiated by 
Athanasius; and of all, in the judgment of posterity as well 
as of his own time, he has been acquitted, though in the last 
century Sir Isaac Newton condescended to use his great 
intellect in reviving them, for the purpose of undermining the 
character of a theological opponent. True or false, however, 
they were such as had no ecclesiastical significance, except 
from the person against whom they were brought. 

3. But though Athanasius was not formally attacked for 
heresy, and was therefore not, technically speaking, a sufferer 
for the sake of his religious creed, yet there can be no doubt 
that the annoyances and dangers to which he was exposed 
originated in theological enmity, and thus furnish the first 
signal instance of the strange sight of Christians persecuting 
Christians. We can hardly suppose that his opponents really 
believed him to be guilty of the murder of Arsenius, or of 
the detention of the Egyptian corn. But these were con- 
venient blinds for a theological hostility which they dared not 
openly avow. And it is important to observe that this wide 
persecution arose, not from the Orthodox against the heretics, 
but from the heretics against the Orthodox. This is a sample 
of what has often occurred since. We cannot deny or palliate 
the intolerance of established Churches, but we must never 

1 See Lectures I. X. XL 

2 The nearest approach to such a collision, is the charge brought against 
him by Julian of baptising Alexandrian ladies, Ep: 6; 

240 Athanasius 

forget that it has been shared to the fullest extent by the 
intolerance of sects and heresies of every kind. Indeed, 
wherever it exists, it is a proof that sectarianism has eaten its 
way into the vitals of the Church itself. Whatever provo- 
cations had been given by the Orthodox party were far 
surpassed by the violence and unrelenting bitterness of the 
Arians. A single scene will suffice, as indicating at once the 
character of Athanasius and of the persecutions. He had 
been urged to retire from Alexandria; but with the reveren- 
tial obedience which, as we have seen, he kept up, at least in 
appearance, for the Imperial authority, he refused to leave 
his post without an express warrant from the Emperor. 
What his enemies could not effect by law, they determined 
to effect by violence. A mob has, in all ages and amongst 
all shades of ecclesiastical party, been a ready instrument for 
theological agitators against their opponents. Of all mobs 
the Alexandrian, whether heathen or Christian, was the most 
terrible. On this occasion it was united with the soldiers. 
The chief of the police was present, but apparently took no 
part in restraining the outrages. 1 

On the night of Thursday the gth of February, 358, Atha- 
nasius with his congregation was, after the manner of the 
Coptic Church, keeping vigil through the whole night in 
the Church of S. Theonas in preparation for the Eucharist 
of the following day. Suddenly, at midnight, 2 there was a 
tumult without. The church, 3 which was of unusual size, 
was surrounded with armed men. 4 The presence of mind for 
which he was famous did not desert the Bishop. Behind the 
altar was the Episcopal throne. On this he took his seat, and 
ordered his attendant deacon to read the 1361!! Psalm, which 
has for every verse the response, " For His mercy endureth 
for ever." It was while these responses were being thundered 
forth by the congregation, that the doors burst open, and the 
Imperial general and notary entered at the head of the soldiers. 
The soldiers were for a moment terror-struck by the chanting 
of the Psalm. 5 But as they pressed forward a shower of 
arrows flew through the church. The swords flashed in the 
light of the sacred torches, the din of their shouts mingled 
with the rattle of their arms. The wounded fell one upon 
another, and were trampled down ; the nuns were seized and 

1 Protest of the Alexandrians, 5. 

2 Protest, 3. 3 Apol. Const. 19. 
4 Protest, 3. 6 Soc. ii. I. 

Athanasius 241 

stripped ; the church was plundered. Through this mass of 
horrors, the two Imperial officers and their attendants passed 
on to the screen 1 before the altar. Athanasius had refused 
to go till most of the congregation had retired. But now he 
was swept away in the crowd. 

In his own version 2 of the story, he is at a loss to account 
for his escape. But his diminutive figure may well have 
passed unseen; and we learn, besides, that he was actually 
carried out in a swoon, 8 which sufficiently explains his own 
ignorance of the means of his deliverance. The church was 
piled with dead, and the floor was strewn with the swords and 
arrows of the soldiers. He vanished, no one knew whither, 
into the darkness of the winter night. 

This scene well introduces us to the consideration of 
another and more general side of the character of Athanasius. 
The qualities that most forcibly struck his contemporaries 
seem rather to have been the readiness 4 and versatility of his 
gifts. An Oxford poet, in the " Lyra Apostolica," has sung of 

" The royal-hearted Athanase, 
With Paul's own mantle blest." 

Whatever may have been the intention of this comparison, it 
is certain that there was a resemblance between the flexibility 
of Athanasius and the many-sided character of the Apostle 
whose boast it was to have " made himself all things to all 
men." None such had occurred before, and none such occurred 
again till the time of Augustine, perhaps not till the time of 
Francis Xavier. 

The hyperbolical language of Gregory Nazianzen shows the 
deep impression made by this, as it seemed, rare peculiarity. 
" He was," so Gregory describes him, 5 " a just distributor of 
praise and blame, according as the case might be ; awakening 
the sluggish^ repressing enthusiasm ; equally alert in prevention 
or in cure ; single in his dims, manifold in his modes of govern- 
ment ; wise in his speech, still wiser in his intentions ; on a 
level with the most ordinary men, yet rising to the height of the 
most speculative ; uniting in himself " (the expression is worth 
preserving as one that could only have been used in that 
transitional state between heathenism and Christianity, which 
was described in my last Lecture) " the various attributes of 

1 Protest, 3. 2 De Fuga, 24. 

4 Julian, Ep. 51 : &/T/>e'xe*. 5 Orat. c. 36. 

Ibid. 4. 

242 Athanasius 

all the heathen gods. Hospitable, like [Jupiter] Philoxenius ; 
listening to suppliants, like [Jupiter] Ikesius ; averting evils, 
like [Apollo] Apotropseus ; binding men together, like [Jupiter] 
Zygius ; pure, like [Pan] Parthenius ; a peacemaker, like [Jupiter] 
Irenseus ; a reconciler, like [Jupiter] Diallacterius ; a conductor 
to the shades below, like [Hermes] Pompaeus." 

Amongst the traits which may be especially selected, as bring- 
ing this part of his character before us, and also as being too 
much overlooked in the popular notions of him, the first is the 
remarkable quickness and humour of his address. 

Take his clever retort to Constantius, who, at the instigation 
of his Arian persecutors, had asked him to open a church for 
the Arians at Alexandria. " I will grant a church to the heretics 
at Alexandria, as soon as you grant a church to the Orthodox at 
Antioch." It is just the one retort, obvious indeed, but un- 
answerable, that may always be made to an intolerant faction. 
They always shrink from the test. 

Take again the well-sustained and pointed irony of the scene 
in the Council of Tyre, where he produces the man whom he 
is accused of having murdered, and whose right hand he is 
supposed to have cut off. The muffled figure is introduced ; 
he shows the face first, and asks all round : " Is this Arsenius, 
whom I murdered ? " He draws out from behind the cloak, 
first one hand, and then the other : " Let no one now ask for 
a third ; for two hands, and two only, has every human being 
received from the Creator of all things." It has been often 
said that a man who can provoke or enjoy a laugh is sure to 
succeed with his fellow-creatures. We cannot doubt that such 
was Athanasius. 1 

Not less efficacious is the power of making use of a laugh 
or a jest, instead of serious arguments. The grave Epiphanius 
ventured one day to ask Athanasius what he thought of the 
opinions of his dangerous supporter, the heretic Marcellus. 
Athanasius returned no answer ; but a significant smile broke 
out over his whole countenance. 2 Epiphanius had sufficient 
humour to perceive that this meant "Marcellus has had a 
narrow escape." 

So, again, when he was asked his opinion on the common 
practice of deathbed baptisms, he replied with an apologue 
which admitted of no rejoinder. " An angel once said to my 

1 Theod. i. 30. 

8 Epiph. Hser. Ixxii. 4 : && rov irpoirdnrov [j.ei$id<ras vvc<(>r)vf. See 
Lecture III. 

Athanasius 243 

great predecessor : ' Peter [the bishop of the see before Alex- 
ander], why do you send me these sacks [these wind-bags] 
carefully sealed up, with nothing whatever inside ? ' " 1 

Another trait makes itself felt in the wide-spread belief 
entertained that he was the great magician of his age. It was 
founded no doubt on his rapid mysterious movements, his 
presence of mind, his prophetic anticipations ; to which must 
be added a humorous pleasure in playing with the fears and 
superstitions which these qualities engendered. 

The Emperor Constantine is entering Constantinople in 
state. A small figure darts across his path in the middle of 
the square, and stops his horse. The Emperor, thunder- 
struck, tries to pass on ; he cannot guess who the petitioner 
can be. It is Athanasius, who comes to insist on justice, when 
thought to be leagues away before the Council of Tyre. 

The Alexandrian Church is dismayed by the accession of 
Julian. But Athanasius is unmoved ; he looks into the future ; 
he sees through the hollowness of the reaction. " It is but a 
little cloud," he says, " that will soon pass away." 

He is pursued by his enemies up the Nile. They meet a 
boat descending the stream. They hail it with the shout 2 so 
familiar to Egyptian travellers on the great river : " Where is 
Athanasius ? " " Not very far off," is the answer. The wind 
carries on the pursuers ; the current carries down the pursued. 
It was Athanasius, who, hearing of their approach, took 
advantage of a bend in the stream, to turn, and meet, and 
mislead, and escape them thus. 

He is passing through one of the squares of Alexandria. 
The heathen mob are standing around ; a crow flies over his 
head. They, partly in jest, partly in earnest, ask him to tell 
them what its croaking meant. He laughs in his sleeve, and 
answers : " Do you not hear ? It says Cras, Cras, which is 
in Latin ' to-morrow,' which means that to-morrow something 
untoward will befall you ; for to-morrow your Pagan festival 
will be suppressed by an Imperial decree." So it came to 
pass, and few would care to ask how he really had gained the 
information. 3 

Of all these incidents the secret springs are to us sufficiently 
clear ; his ubiquitous activity, his innumerable sources of 
knowledge, his acute observation. But whilst to his friends 

1 Tillemont, Athan. c. 117. 

2 Soc. iii. 14. Sozomen makes this a divine intimation. 
* Soz. iv. 10. 

244 Athanasius 

they seemed to imply supernatural aid, to his enemies they 
suggested suspicions of the blackest witchcraft. When the 
murdered man with both his hands was produced alive, there 
were those who maintained that it was an optical illusion, 
caused by the glamour which Athanasius had cast over the 
Council. Even an enlightened Pagan was convinced that his 
knowledge of the future was derived from arts of divination, 
and from the auguries of birds. 1 And this belief of the 
Pagans and heretics has curiously forced itself back into 
the Church. Whatever may be thought of the real origin of the 
legend of S. George the martyr of Cappadocia, there can be no 
doubt that it has been incorporated with an Arian legend of 
the Arian George, Bishop of Alexandria, and murdered by the 
Alexandrian mob ; and that from this union has sprung the story 
in its present popular form. In this story, the contest of S. George 
is for the Empress Alexandra (in whom we can hardly fail to 
see the type of the Alexandrian Church), and his enemy is the 
magician Athanasius. 2 As time rolls on, and the legend grows 
in dimensions, George becomes the champion on his steed, 
rescuing the Egyptian princess, and Athanasius the wizard sinks 
into the prostrate dragon ; and, in the popular representations 
of the story, still acted by Christmas mummers in the North of 
England, the transformation is into a lower form still ; and 
the only image which Cheshire peasants have seen of Atha- 
nasius is the quaint and questionable figure who appears under 
the name and in the guise of Beelzebub. It is the last 
expiring trace of the revenge of the Arians on their great 

III. From the active life of Athanasius we pass to his more 
speculative aspect, as the chief theologian of the age, in one 
sense of all ages. 

It may indeed be doubted whether, in his own age, there 
was not one of still higher authority in the theological world, 
Hosius of Cordova. But his was one of those brilliant 
reputations which have expired with the life of the holder ; 
whereas that of Athanasius grew in the next generation to the 
height that secured for him finally the title of " great," which 
Hosius enjoyed only during his lifetime. " Whenever you meet 
with a sentence of Athanasius," was the saying of the sixth 

1 Ammianus xv. 7. 

2 Acta SS., April 23, 120-123, The addition that the magician was a 
friend of Magnentius identifies him beyond any doubt with Athanasius. 
See p. 239. 

Athanasius 245 

century, " and have not paper at hand, write it down upon your 

1. He was one of the few theologians whose fame was 
common both to East and West. What he was in the East I 
need not here further specify. But he left his footprint in 
the West also, to a degree far beyond what is the case with 
any other Eastern Father. He visited Rome and Treves. 
He learned Latin to converse with the Roman Bishop. He 
introduced to the Romans the strange hermits from Egypt. 
He brought monasticism into Germany. His very remains 
were gradually removed westward, from Alexandria 1 to 
Constantinople, to Venice, to France, to Spain. 

The close argumentative style of his writings was better 
calculated to win the attention of the Western theologians 2 
than the more rhetorical and imaginative works of most of his 
countrymen ; and of this harmony in thought, as well as of the 
deep impression left by his character in Western Christendom, 
the most remarkable proof is the ancient hymn, " Quicunque 
vult," which, throughout the middle ages and by our own 
Reformers, was believed to b the Creed of S. Athanasius. The 
learned world is now fully aware that it is of French or Spanish 
origin. It not only contains words and phrases which to 
Athanasius were unknown, but it distinctly and from the first 
asserted the doctrine of the Double Procession of the Spirit, 
which never occurs in the writings of Athanasius, 3 and which, 
in all probability, he would have repudiated with his Oriental 
brethren of later times. But its partial resemblance to his 
style, and the assumption of his name, have given it an 
immense support. 

2. He was the father of all Theology, in a more precise 
sense than either as the oracle of the ancient Churches, or the 
writer of the chief theological Creed of the West. He was the 

1 Acta SS., May 2, i. 35. 2 See Lecture I. p. 73. 

8 The nearest approach to the Double Procession in the writings of 
Athanasius is in Ep. ad. Serapion. i. 20. On the other hand, the Single 
Procession was maintained as against the doctrine of the creation of the 
Spirit. "(Neander, iv. 106-109.) See Lecture I. That a chief motive 
for cherishing the Athanasian Creed in the Latin Church was its assertion 
of the Double Procession, is evident from "the ancient testimonies" cited 
by Waterland (iv. 150), which mostly turn on this very point, A.D. 809 to 
1439. It has, indeed, in later times found its way into the Psalters both of 
Greece and Russia, though not of the remoter East But it has never 
been recognised as an Eastern Creed, and the clause for which it was so 
highly valued in the West has been omitted. (Renaudot, Hist. Patr. Alex. 
98.) Salig. (De Eutych. ante Eutych. 131). 

246 Athanasius 

founder of Orthodoxy. 1 Before his time, and before the settle- 
ment of the Nicene Creed, in which he took so large a part, it 
might be said that the idea of an Orthodox doctrine, in the 
modern sense of the word, was almost unknown. Opinions 
were too fluctuating, too simple, too mixed, to admit of it. It 
is a word, even to this day, of doubtful repute. No one likes 
to be called "heretical," but neither is it a term of unmixed 
eulogy to be called "orthodox." It is a term which implies, 
to a certain extent, narrowness, fixedness, perhaps even 
hardness, of intellect, and deadness of feeling; at times, 
rancorous animosity. In these respects its great founder can- 
not be said to be altogether free from the reproach cast on his 
followers in the same line. His elaborate expositions of 
doctrine sufficiently exemplify the minuteness of argument 
which perhaps may have been the cause of his being regarded 
as a special pleader or jurisconsult. 2 His invectives against 
the Arians prove how far even a heroic soul can be betrayed 
by party spirit and the violence of the times. Amongst his 
favourite epithets for them are : " Devils, Antichrists, maniacs, 
Jews, polytheists, atheists, dogs, wolves, lions, hares, chameleons, 
hydras, eels, cuttlefish, gnats, beetles, leeches." 3 There may be 
qases where such language is justifiable, but, as a general rule, 
and with all respect for him who uses them, this style of contro- 
versy can be mentioned as a warning only, not as an example. 

But the zeal of Athanasius for Orthodoxy, if it hurried him 
at times beyond the limits of Christian moderation in language, 
rarely, so far as we know, tempted him into unchristian 
violence in deeds. We can here speak with the more certainty 
from the contrast which his life presents with that of another 
great prelate of the next generation. Just as, in the history of 
our own Church, Anselm's virtues can be appreciated only by 
comparison with Becket, or Ken's by comparison with Sancroft ; 
so Athanasius, in the fourth century, may be fairly judged in 
the light of his own successor, Cyril of Alexandria, in the fifth. 
The bribery which is certainly traced to Cyril is at least doubt- 
ful in Athanasius. 4 There is good reason to acquit Athanasius 
of any share in the murder of George ; 5 but Cyril was 

1 rov irarp'bs rr)s opOo$oia,s. Epiph. Haer. Ixix. C. 2. 

2 Sulp. Sev. ii. 390 ; Gibbon, c. 22. 

8 See these epithets collected in a note to Athanasius's Historical 
Treatises (Newman's ed. ii. 34.) 

4 The charge is only found in Philostorgius, iii. 12. 
6 Philost. vii. 2. The silence of Julian acquits him. 

Athanasius 247 

suspected, 1 even by the Orthodox, of complicity in the murder 
of Hypatia. Cyril was active in procuring the cruel banish- 
ment of the blameless Nestorius ; Athanasius was concerned in 
no persecutions except those in which he himself suffered. It 
was a maxim of Athanasius that "the duty of Orthodoxy is 
not to compel but to persuade belief;" Cyril carried his 
measures by placing himself at the head of bands of ferocious 
ruffians, 2 and by canonising the assassin. No graver reproach 
rests on the memory of Athanasius than that of being a power- 
ful magician ; Cyril's death suggested to one who has left his 
feelings on record the reflection that " at last the reproach of 
Israel was taken away ; that he was gone to vex the inhabitants 
of the world below with his endless dogmatism : let every one 
throw a stone upon his grave, lest perchance he should make 
even hell too hot to hold him, 3 and return to earth." But the 
excellence of Athanasius, like that of every theologian, must be 
measured, not by his attack upon error, but by his defence 
of truth. Judged, indeed, by the hard and narrow standard of 
modern times, his teaching would be pronounced "lamentably 
defective." But it is his rare merit, or his rare good fortune, 
that the centre of his theology was the doctrine of the 
Incarnation. His earliest treatise is on that special subject, 
before it had become embroiled in the Arian controversy ; and 
it contains his calm statement of the doctrine, and of its practical 
effects on the world, unembittered by the polemics of his 
middle life. And though the forms, both of the errors which 
he opposed and of the truths which he maintained, have varied 
in later times, it may be worth while briefly to point out how 
his teaching reaches far beyond his own time, and extends into 
those manifold applications which form one of the best tests of' 

(a) I have before spoken of the polytheistic tendencies 
of which Arianism was the partial development. The Unity of 
the Father and the Son, which Athanasius maintained against 
these tendencies, is still needed as the basis of sound represent- 
ations of the Divine acts. It is a standing witness, that in 
Scripture and theology, no less than in philosophy and 

1 The direct charge of Damascius is confirmed by the ominous hint of 
Socrates, vii. 15. See Valesius ad h. 1. 

2 Soc. vii. 13, 14. 

3 Theod. Ep. 180. The genuineness of the Epistle and its intention, 
have been disputed, but mainly on the supposed improbability that 
Theodoret should so have designated Cyril. 



conscience, there is a marked repugnance to the forced 
oppositions between the justice of the Father and the mercy 
of the Son, which run through the popular systems of the 
Redemption adopted since the Reformation. Amongst the 
various figures which Athanasius uses to express his view, one 
is that of "Satisfaction.'* But this is introduced incidentally 
and in entire subordination to the primary truth, that the 
Redemption flowed from the Indivisible Love of the Father 
and the Son alike, and that its object was the restoration of 
man to union with God. 

(b) It was a favourite position of Arius l that the finite mind 
of man could never comprehend the Infinity of God. Such 
notions have been sometimes pushed to a still further develop- 
ment in the form of representing the Divine morality as 
altogether different from the human. But it is a profound 
remark of a gifted member of the Eastern Church, that one 
grand result of the Nicene decision was the reassertion of 
the moral nature, the moral perfection, of the Divinity. 2 In the 
Athanasian declaration that only through the image of perfect 
humanity can perfect Divinity be made known to us, is the 
true antidote to any such erroneous or sceptical representations 
of the Divine character. 

(c) The Athanasian doctrine of the Divine relations possesses 
an element of permanence shared by no other theories of that 
time. 3 It recognises only two intelligences in the world, God 
and man. These are two simple ideas which will last as long 
as the human race itself. But the Arian theories introduce 
into the subject the hypothesis of beings intervening between 
the Divine and human, such as belong to the transitory and 
dubious province which lies between Religion and Mythology. 
If the controversy had ended by fixing in the centre of the 
Christian Creed a being like the angels or ^Eons of the early 
heretics, or the superhuman saints of the Latin Church, the 
departure from the simplicity and sobriety of Christian faith 
would have been far wider than can be the case in any true 
statement of the doctrine of Athanasius. 

(d) The importance ascribed by Athanasius to the doctrine 

1 According to Philostorgius (ii. 3), " Arius everywhere asserted that 
God was unknown, incomprehensible, and inconceivable, not only by men, 
but by the only-begotten Son Himself. But in this error the greater part 
of his followers joined." Compare to the same effect Eusebius, Eccl. 
Theol. i. 12. 

2 Quelques Mots (1857), 32, 69, 79. 

8 I am indebted for this remark to the Rev. J. B. Mozley. 

Athanasius 249 

of the Incarnation, almost requires " the incommunicable pre- 
eminence " l which the most philosophical theologians, as well 
as the simplest believers, have always assigned to the Four 
Gospels above all other portions of the sacred volume. This 
pre-eminence has often been disputed by the sectarian or the 
half-informed polemics of modern times. But it is not less 
necessary to Athanasian theology, than it is to a right adjustment 
of the proportions of Scripture. 

3. There was a still " more excellent way " of Orthodoxy in 
which Athanasius was conspicuous. He had firmly grasped 
the idea that it was a Christian duty to reconcile imaginary 
differences, and distinguish the essential and unessential. 
"Whilst," says Gregory Nazianzen, "he was a fire which burns 
away as a forest the noxious vegetation, and a sword which 
cuts up evil by the roots, so he was a husbandman's winnowing 
fan to separate the light chaff from the solid grain of the wheat. 
Whilst he went along with the sword of the conqueror, he was 
also the breath of the quickening spirit." 2 

Four signal instances of his discriminating judgment are 
recorded : 

(a) He healed the jealousies of the two monastic orders, 
the monks (or Coenobites) and the hermits, which threatened 
to . break up the Eastern Church, as the quarrels of the Fran- 
ciscans and Dominicans in later times disturbed the tranquillity 
of the Western Church ; the one representing the more purely 
devotional, the other the more intellectual, form of religion. 
He lived equally with both ; sometimes in the cell of the con- 
templative anchorite, sometimes in the community of the more 
social convent. Here, as elsewhere (I again quote the strong 
language of Gregory), " he showed himself the reconciler and 
mediator of the age, imitating Him who by His own blood 
set at peace those who had parted asunder ; showing (with the 
hermits) that religion was able to become philosophical, and 
(with the monks) that philosophy stood in need of the guidance 
of religion." 3 

(b) Beth in discipline and in doctrine he gave proof that 
he was willing to sacrifice the letter to the spirit. A solemn 
decree of the Nicene Council, one of the few still observed in 
the West, required the presence of three Bishops for Episcopal 
consecration, and the usage of the Egyptian Church required 

1 Remains of Alexander Knox, ii. 335 ; an admirable passage, quoted 
in Dr. Ogilvie's Bampton Lectures, p. 230. 

2 Orat. 21, c. 7. 8 Ibid. 21, c. 19. 

250 Athanasius 

that all such appointments should take place at Alexandria. 
When a young active layman had been consecrated by a single 
Bishop, and without consulting the see of Alexandria, Athanasius 
acquiesced in the appointment, though "against all the rules 
received from antiquity," and, yet further, "bent to the 
necessities of the time, "and promoted him to the metropolitan 
see of the province. 1 

(c) In doctrine he gave a yet more startling proof of this 
same disposition. If there was any one object which he might 
seem to have at heart more than any other, it was the word 
Homdousion? which he had been the means of introducing 
into the Council of Nicaea. The truth which he believed to 
be expressed by the word he did indeed defend through life 
and death. But the word itself he was willing to waive, when 
he found that it was misunderstood. 3 We may think, with 
Bishop Kaye, that he might have come earlier to this conclusion. 
But that he should have come to it at all, shows that he pos- 
sessed a rare qualification of a great theologian. It is an 
edifying instance of the power of appreciating identity of 
doctrine under different, or even opposite, forms of speech. 

(d) Yet one more important task of this kind was reserved 
for the close of his life ; namely, to reconcile the divisions of 
the East and West, which threatened to break out, as they 
did afterwards, into open 'rupture on these verbal questions. 
The Council of the Apostles at Jerusalem is the only one of 
which the direct object was not an enforcement of uniformity, 
but a toleration of diversity. That which, in later times, 
approached most nearly to it in this respect was the Council 
held at Alexandria, under the presidency of Athanasius, in 
the year 362. It consisted of the Bishops returning home 
from banishment, after the struggle with the Arians, and was 
intended to reunite, by an act of amnesty, the broken fragments 
of the Church. Those who had lapsed into Arianism were 
now on submission to be received again. 4 Lucifer of Cagliari, 
the fierce Sardinian, alone protested, and the long discord was 

Amongst other questions brought before it was the dispute 
which had arisen in the Council of Nicaea on the meaning of 
the word hypostasis, and which had now reached its height. 

1 See Synesius, Ep. 67. 2 See Lecture IV. * Ath. de Syn. 41. 

4 Basil had to defend himself for having done so. Athanasius's letters, 
saying that he was to receive them without hesitation, were his warrant. 
Ep. 204, 6 (306). 

Athanasius 251 

The Latins still used it in the sense in which it was used in 
the Nicene Creed, as identical with ousia, which they translated 
by substantici) the etymological equivalent of hypostasis. But 
the Greeks had begun to use it in the sense of prosopon 
("person"), and taunted the ignorant Latins with Sabellianism, 
whilst the Latins retorted with the charge of Arianism. Others, 
in the hope of stifling the quarrel, proscribed the use of both 
words. 1 "The controversy," says Gregory, "had reached to 
such a pitch that the two quarters of the world were on the 
point of being torn asunder by a difference of syllables. When 
Athanasius of blessed memory saw and heard this, he, like a 
true man of God, like a grand steward of souls, determined 
that this absurd and irrational division of the Divine Word 
was not to be endured ; and the remedy, the charm, which he 
had in his own character and mind, he brought to bear on the 
disease. How did he effect this ? He called both sides together. 
He addressed them gently and kindly. He explained in exact 
terms the sense of what was intended, and when he found that 
they agreed, and had no difference in what they meant, he 
granted freely to each the use of their words and names ; whilst 
he bound them together by the things and facts which the 
words represented. This was more profitable than all the long 
labours and discourses, in which perhaps there may have been 
an element of ambition and vanity. This is more honourable 
than all the sleepless nights and hard couches, of which the 
advantage ends with the endurance. This was worth all his 
famous wanderings and exiles ; for this was the object for 
which he bore those sufferings, and to which he devoted 
himself after those sufferings were over." 

The Council of Alexandria was the last public occasion on 
which Athanasius appeared. It is pleasing to reflect that the 
last public acts of Athanasius's life were of wisdom, discernment, 
and charity. 

In Goethe's " Faust," the counsel given by Mephistopheles 
is to pay no attention to things in theology, but to dwell solely 
on wordsi. This is the Devil's advice to theological students ; 
and, alas! by too many, in every age of the world, most 
faithfully has it been followed. The advice and the example 
of Athanasius are exactly the contrary. Words no doubt are of 
high importance in theology. Both in ecclesiastical history and 

1 Soc. iii. 7 The difficulty of properly adjusting these terms continued 
even to the middle ages. See a learned note on this subject in Remusat's 
Life of Anselm, p. 517. 

252 Athanasius 

in the interpretation of Scripture, the study of their origin 
and meaning is most fruitful. Athanasius himself introduced 
into our confessions one of the most famous of them. But 
this gives the greater force to his warning when he bids the 
contending parties ascertain first of all what is the meaning of 
the terms they use, and then, if the meaning on both sides is 
the same, to fix their attention not on the words respecting 
which they differ, but on the things respecting which they are 

One further final glimpse we catch of Athanasius. It is the 
sight, seldom witnessed, of a cordial salutation and farewell 
between the departing and the coming generation. This is 
what we see in the correspondence of the aged Athanasius and 
the active Basil, just entering on the charge of his new diocese 
in Asia Minor. The younger Prelate, suspected of heresy, 
eagerly appeals to the old oracle of Orthodoxy, and from him 
receives the welcome support which elsewhere he had sought 
in vain. " His accusers torment themselves without reason," 
replied Athanasius. " He has but condescended to the 
infirmities of the weak. Think yourselves happy to have 
received as your pastor a man so full of wisdom and of truth." 
Basil longed to see the great reconciler face to face. 1 This 
was not to be. But, amidst the distracting perplexities of the 
time, he consoled himself by writing to him, and by delineating 
the venerable figure of the representative of the former age. 
" His head," so Basil 2 describes him, " is now white with years. 
... He has lived from the happy days before the Nicene 
Council, when the Church was at peace, into these mournful 
days of boundless controversy. . . . He is the Samuel of the 
Church, the revered mediator between the old generation and 
the new. He is the skilful physician for the manifold diseases 
with which the Church is labouring. 3 ... He stands," such 
is the expressive image drawn no doubt from the lighthouse 
(Pharos) of Athanasius's own city, "he stands on his lofty 
watchtower of speculation, seeing with his ubiquitous glance 
what is passing throughout the world. He overlooks the wide 
stormy ocean, where there is a vast fleet at sea, tossed and 
foundering in the waters, partly by the external violence of the 
sea, still more by the mismanagement and misunderstanding 
of the crews of the several ships, running each other down, and 
thrusting each other aside. . . . With this image," says S. Basil, 

i Basil, Ep. 69, 2 (52). 2 Ep. 68, i (48). 

s Ep. 82. 

Athanasius 253 

" I will conclude what I have to say. It is all that the wisdom 
of Athanasius will require to be said ; it is all that the difficulties 
of the time will permit me to say." 

With this image, too, let me conclude. Our view over the 
sea of ecclesiastical history, past and present and future, is as 
it was then. The tempest still rages; the ships which went 
out of the harbour have never returned. They are still tossing 
to and fro, and beating against one another in the waves of 

It may have been an advantage to have gazed for a moment 
over this scene through the eyes and with the experiences of 
Athanasius the Great. 











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THERE are few historical subjects on which the changes of our degrees 
of knowledge are so readily appreciable as in the case of the religion of 
Mahomet. 1 In the time of the Crusaders, Mahometans were vulgarly 
regarded as Pagan idolaters : it is now known that they abhor idolatry 
even more than we do. The very name of " Mahomet " ( " Mawmet " or 
" Mumiuet" ) was then taken for a graven image : it is now known that he 
absolutely forbade the use of any material representation. It was then 
believed that the name of Christ was held accursed in the eyes of Mussulmans : 
it is now known that He is held to be one of the greatest, almost the greatest, 
of their prophets. It was believed till the last century that Mahomet rested 
his claims on false miracles : it is now known, and indeed urged as an 
argument against him, that he laid claim to no miracles at all. Voltaire, 
no less than Prideaux and Gagnier, believed him to be a wicked impostor : 
it is now known that, at least for a large part of his life, he was a sincere 
reformer and enthusiast. The gross blunders formerly made in his Western 
biographies, from an insufficient knowledge of Arabic, 2 are now rectified ; 
and yet further, the reaction which took place in his favour about fifty years 
since has been checked by increased information from original sources. The 
story of his epileptic fits a few years ago much discredited, seems now to be 
incontrovertibly re-established ; and we have a firmer ground than before for 
believing that a decided change came over the simplicity of his character 
after the establishment of his kingdom at Medina. 

But there still remain two works unfinished, or not yet begun, before the 

1 Of the authorities, the following may be selected : 
On the life of Mahomet : 

1 " The Koran." (Either Sale's translation into English or Kasimirsky's 

translation into French, or Lane's Selections.) 

2. Caussin de Percival's " Histoire des Arabes." (1848.) 

3. Weil's "Mohamed der Prophet." (1843.) 

4. Sprenger's "Lifeof Mohamed." (1851.) 

5. Muir's "Lifeof Mahomet." (1858,1861.) 
On Mahometan Customs : 

1. Burckhardt's " Notes on the Bedouins." (1831.) 

2. Lane's " Modern Egyptians." (1836: singularly accurate.) 

3. Burton's Pilgrimage to Mecca Medineh." (1856.) 

2 A signal instance is the version of the famous speech of Ali as given by 
Gibbon and others, from Gagnier's translation of Abu-1-Fida's Life of 
Mohamed : " O Prophet, I will be thy vizier. I will beat out the teeth, pull 
out the eyes, rip up the bellies, and break the legs of all who oppose you." 

This speech, so unlike the gentle character of Ali, is now known to have 
run thus : " O Prophet^ I be thy vizier ; though I am the youngest of them 
in years, and the weakest of them in eyes, and the biggest of them in belly 
[the invariable characteristic of an Arab child], and the most slender of them 
in legs, I, O Prophet of God, will be thy vizier over them." Lane's 
Selections from the Koran, p. 62. 


256 Mahometanism in its relations 

completion of which any thorough representation of the rise of Mahometanism 
must be impossible to a Western student. 

1. We need an edition and translation of the Koran which shall give two 
points hitherto almost unattempted, yet both almost indispensable to its 
right appreciation. First, the chronological arrangement of its chapters. 1 
Secondly, a version which shall represent, not merely its matter, but the 
form of its rhymed diction. 2 

2. Two remarkable works on the life of the Prophet lately have appeared. 
Mr. Muir's biography (of which only the earlier portion had appeared when 
the first edition of this work was published) has now been completed, and 
adds details of the greatest interest to those which were known before. But 
of Dr. Sprenger's "Life of Mohamed " we have still only the fragment 
published at Allahabad in 1851, and the first volume (just appeared) of his 
larger work. This work, when finished, will contain the whole biography, 
and will have been founded on a wider collection of traditions than has ever 
been brought before the eyes of any single critic. 

I trust, however, that the following brief remarks on the general con- 
nection of this subject with the history of the Church may be of service to 
the ecclesiastical student, and will justify the place which is assigned to it 
in these Lectures. 

I. As the Eastern Church ought always to be regarded as the 
background of the Western Church, so Mahometanism, at least 
for the first eight centuries of its existence, is the background of J 
both. The sword of the Saracen, the Turk, and the Tartar j 
constantly hung over the eastern confines of Christendom ; and 
down to the final repulse beneath the walls of Vienna, by John 
Sobieski and the Duke of Lorraine, checked the policy and 
restrained the passions of the Churches and nations of Europe. 
The Crusades, the most important event of the middle ages, owe 
their origin entirely to the conflict with Islam. The Spanish 
Church and monarchy rose out of a crusade of its own. Of 
that crusade the traces have been left, not only in the Oriental 
manners and architecture of the Spanish nation, but in the 
fierce bigotry of the Spanish Church ; in the Inquisition ; in 
the union of chivalry, devotion, and fanaticism which marks the 
Spanish institution of the Society of Jesuits. The " tabula rasa " 
which the ancient kingdom of Hungary presents, stripped of all 
its historical and ecclesiastical monuments, is the lasting scar 
which the Turkish invasion and long occupation of that country 
have left on the face of Europe. The agitations of the Reform- 

1 An approximation to this may be found in Weil's Mohamed, p. 364, and 
thence in Dr. Macbride's Mahometanism, p. 108. The clue furnished even 
thus far is invaluable as a guide through the chaos in which the book at 
present lies. 

2 A few instances are given in Sprenger, pp. 121, 122. A metrical, 
though not a rhymed, version has since been published by Mr. Rodwell. 

to the Eastern Church 257 

ation were constantly arrested by the terror of the Sultan of 
Constantinople. Even our Prayer-book has one mark of the 
importance of this panic, when, in the collect for Good Friday, 
the name of " Turk " was added to those of " Jews, Heretics, 
and Infidels," for whose conversion in earlier days prayers had 
been offered up. Nor can it be forgotten that it is the only 
higher religion which has hitherto made progress in the vast 
continent of Africa. Whatever may be the future fortunes of 
African Christianity, there can be no doubt that they will long 
be affected by its relations with the most fanatical and the most 
proselytising portion of the Mussulman world in its negro 

II. But with the Eastern Church Mahometanism has a more 
direct connection. Not only have the outward fortunes of the 
Greek, Asiatic, and Russian l Churches been affected by their 
unceasing conflict with this their chief enemy, but it and they 
have a large part of their history and their condition in common. 
Springing out of the same Oriental soil and climate, if not out 
of the bosom of the Oriental Church itself, in part under its 
influence, in part by way of reaction against it, Mahometanism 
must be regarded as an eccentric heretical form of Eastern 
Christianity. This, in fact, was the ancient mode of regarding 
Mahomet. He was considered, not in the light of the founder 
of a new religion, but rather as one of the chief heresiarchs of 
the Church. Amongst them he is placed by Dante in the 

Yet more than this, its progress, if not its rise, can be traced 
directly to those theological dissensions which form the main 
part of the ecclesiastical history of the East. We are told 
by Dean Prideaux, that he originally undertook the "Life of 
Mahomet," as part of a " History of the Ruin of the Eastern 
Church," to which he was led by his sad reflection on the con- 
troversies of his own time in England ; 2 and the remarks, deeply 
instructive and pathetic now as then, with which he opens his 
design, well express the connection between the two events : 

" Notwithstanding those earnest expectations and strong hopes, 
which we entertained of having our divisions healed, and all those 
breaches which they have caused in the Church again made up ; 

1 See Lecture IX. 

2 Pref. to Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, pp. vi.-xvi. He gave up the plan 
from a fear of seeming to underrate the importance of the Trinitarian con- 
troversy, which, after he had begun his work, began to be agitated in 
England. Ibid. pp. xvii. xviii. 


258 Mahometanism in its relations 

finding those of the separation still to retain the same spirit on the 
one side, and some others to be so violently bent on the other, 
against everything that might tend to mollify or allay it, as to frus- 
trate all those excellent designs which have been laid in order 
thereto ; I thought I could not better let those men see what mischief 
they both do hereby to the common interest of Christianity, than by 
laying before them the grievous ruin and desolation, which from the 
like cause happened to the Churches of the East, once the most 
flourishing of the whole earth. For they, having drawn the abstrusest 
niceties into .controversy which were of little or no moment to that 
which is the chief end of our Holy Christian religion, and divided i 
and subdivided about them into endless schisms and contentions, 
did thereby so destroy that peace, love, and charity from among 
them, which the Gospel was given to promote, and instead thereof 
continually provoked each other to that malice, rancour, and every 
evil work, that they lost the whole substance of their religion, while 
they thus eagerly contended for their own imaginations concerning 
it, and in a manner drove Christianity quite out of the world by 
those very controversies in which they disputed with each other about 
it. So that at length having wearied the patience and long-suffer- 
ing of God, in thus turning this holy religion into a firebrand of hell 
for contention, strife, and violence among them, which was given 
them out of his infinite mercy to the quite contrary end, for the 
salvation of their souls, ]py living holily, righteously, and justly in 
this present world, he raised up the Saracens to be the instruments 
of his wrath to punish them for it ; who taking advantage of the 
weakness of power, and the distractions of councils, which these 
divisions had caused among them, soon over-run with a terrible 
devastation all the Eastern Provinces of the Roman Empire. 

" And when the matter came to this trial, some of those who were 
the hottest contenders about Christianity became the first apostates 
from it ; and they, who would not afore part with a nicety, an 
abstruse notion, or an unreasonable scruple, for the peace of the 
Church, were soon brought by the sword at their throats, to give up 
the whole in compliance to the pleasure of a barbarous and savage 

" And no wonder that such, who had afore wrangled away the 
substance of their religion in contention and strife against each 
other, and eat out the very heart of it by that malice and rancour 
which they showed in their controversy about it, became easily con- 
tent when under this force to part with the name also. 

"A sad memento to us; for of all Christian Churches now 
remaining in the world, which is there that hath more reason than 
we at this present, to learn instruction from this example, and take 
warning therefrom ? " 

III. There were also direct points of contact between the 
religion of Mahomet and the Eastern Church which may be 
briefly noticed. 

to the Eastern Church 259 

1. The rise of his power was considerably aided by a circle 
in Mecca, amongst whom was the favourite slave Zeyd, who 
were predisposed to accept a purer faith than the Paganism of 
Arabia. This predisposition they undoubtedly derived from 
intercourse with Eastern Christians, either from Abyssinia or 
Syria. 1 

2. Through the conflicting stories and legends of Mahomet's 
early life emerges one dark figure, of whom the little that is 
said only serves to stimulate our curiosity. There are not a 
few mysterious characters of history, who have done more than 
the world will ever know or acknowledge, more than they them- 
selves expected or desired. Bahari, Bahyra, Sergius, George, 
whatever be the name of the Syrian or Nestorian monk of 
Bostra, is one of these. It seems impossible to refuse all 
credence to the manifold traditions which represent him as 
conversing with Mahomet on his first journey with the camel- 
drivers, as welcoming the youthful Prophet with the presage of 
his coming greatness, and entering into the innermost circle 
of Mahomet's companions as the first and favourite friend. 2 In 
that case, we can hardly doubt that the Eastern Church, through 
this wandering heretical son, exercised a powerful control over 
the rising fortunes of Islam. 

3. The local legends of the Syrian or Arabian Christians, 
whether as communicated by Bahari or by others, form the 
groundwork of Mahomet's knowledge of Christianity, or at 
least of those parts of Christianity which he incorporated with 
his own religion. It is in this manner that one branch of 
ecclesiastical or sacred literature, little studied and with but 
slight influence in Christendom itself, has acquired an import- 
ance not sufficiently appreciated. The genuine canonical 
Gospels were almost unknown to Mahomet. 3 But the apocry- 
phal Gospels, which enshrine so many of the traditions of 
Palestine and Egypt respecting the localities of the sacred story, 

1 Sprenger, 38, 41 ; Muir, ii. 7, 50 ; Koran, c. 85. 

2 See Prideaux, 41-48 ; Muir, i. 35. As an instance of the permanence 
of Oriental traditions respecting Bahari, I may mention that I heard from 
the lips of an Egyptian Arab the identical story respecting Bahari's death 
which was told to Maundeville in the I4th century (c. xii.), and to Schwartz, 
the collector of Jewish traditions, in this century (p. 346). 

3 The two exceptions are : I. The assumption to himself of the name of 
the Paracletus, under the distorted form of Paraclytus, the "illustrious." 
The word, as far as we know, is only found in the canonical writings of 
S. John. 2. The account of the birth of John the Baptist, which seems to 
be taken from S. Luke. (Muir, ii. 313, 278.) 

260 Mahometanism in its relations 

and which no doubt circulated widely in the lower classes both 
of the East and West, were quite familiar to him. From these, 
with the total ignorance of chronology which besets an Oriental 
mind, he compiled his account of "The Lord Jesus." Hence 
came his description of the Holy Family : the Family of Amran, 
as he calls it, from a confused identification of Mary with 
Miriam the sister of Moses. Hence came the only conception 
which he was able to form of the character and miracles of 
Christ; a conception how inferior to the true one those only 
can tell who have compared the grotesque puerility of the 
apocryphal, with the grand sublimity of the canonical, narrative. 1 . 
The same excuse that has been made for much of the unbelief 
of the West, must also be made for the misbelief of the East. 
As we forgive the sceptics of the last century for a hatred to 
Christianity which they only knew as represented by the 
corrupt monarchy and hierarchy of France, so may we still 
more forgive Mahomet for the inferior place which he assigned 
amongst the Prophets to Him whom he knew not as the Christ 
of the Four Evangelists, but as the Christ of the Gospel of the 
Infancy or of Nicodemus. 

4. Some few of his doctrines and legends are remarkable, 
not only as having been derived by him from Christian sources, 
but as having been received back from him into Christendom. 
One is the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the 
Virgin Mary. The assertion of her entire exemption from all 
stain of sin first appears, so far as is known, in a chapter in the 
Koran. 2 Another is the story of the Seven Sleepers at 
Ephesus. It is, as Gibbon observes, 3 the most widely diffused, 
as it is the most suggestive, of all ecclesiastical legends, and a 
large part of its diffusion it owes to its adoption in the Koran. 
A third is the belief in the mysterious personage " El Khudr," 
the " Green one," the counterpart, from a better side, of the 
legend of the Wandering Jew, but by Mussulmans identified 
partly with the Christian S. George, partly with the Hebrew 
Elijah ; the strange visitant of immortal youth, who appears to 
set right the wrong, and solve the obscure. 4 The story of El 
Khudr in the Koran is the earliest origin of the moral apologue 
well known to English readers through ParnelPs poem of the 
Hermit and the Angel. 

IV. Through the peculiar circumstances of its appearance in 
Arabia, Mahometanism furnishes a storehouse of illustration to 

1 See Muir, ii. 288. 2 Koran, iii. 31, 37. 

8 c. 33. 4 Jelaladdin, 128, 406, 537. 

to the Eastern Church 261 

Christian ecclesiastical history, such as can be found in none of 
the heathen religions of the world. Its Eastern origin gives to 
all its outward forms and expressions a likeness to the corre- 
sponding terms and incidents of the Old and New Testaments, 
which renders it invaluable as an aid to the Biblical commentator 
and historian. Its rise and growth present parallels and con- 
trasts to the propagation of the Christian religion, and to the 
different forms of the Christian Church, which can be found 
nowhere else. The comparison of its first beginnings with 
those of Christianity, if it could be done without exaggeration 
on either side, would supply by its resemblances an admirable 
commentary on the historical details, and by its contrasts an 
admirable evidence to the Divine spirit of the Gospel narrative. 
The circle of devoted disciples gather round their master ; the 
jealousy and suspicion of the Arabian hierarchy ; " the house 
of Arcam " where their earliest meetings were held, as in " the 
house " and " the upper room " of the Gospels and the Acts ; 
the constant recruitment of the new society from the humblest 
classes, especially from slaves ; l the peculiarities of the leading 
followers, especially the energy and zeal of the last and most 
reluctant convert, Omar the persecutor changed into Omar the 
devoted preacher and caliph, 2 are parallels which help us at 
every turn to understand the like passages in the story of the 
Gospels and the Acts ; whilst the immeasurable contrast be- 
tween the Character which forms the centre of the one group, 
and that which forms the centre of the other, reveals to us the 
incommensurable difference between the faith of Christianity 
and the faith of Islam. 

Or again, we can trace, with a clearness which throws a 
strong light on either side, the parallel between the confessedly 
natural part of the subsequent growth of the two ecclesiastical 
systems. In each case there is a marked descent from the 
vigour and purity of the first followers to the weakness and dis- 
cord of those who succeed. In each case the Church is broken 
up into divisions large and small, and is developed into systems 
of which its first framers knew nothing. Even the wide rent 
between Eastern and Western, and yet more between Catholic 
and Protestant, Christendom, finds its instructive likeness in 
the rent between the Sonnees and Shiahs of the Mussulman 
world. The exaltation of S. Peter or of the Virgin Mary in the 
Roman Catholic Church, beyond the position which they 

1 Sprenger, 159. 

* For the comparison of Omar to S. Paul, see Muir, ii. 168. 

262 Mahometanism in its relations 

occupied in the earliest ages, is met by the corresponding 
elevation of AH amongst the Shiahs. The Pope was hardly 
more hateful in the eyes of Luther and Calvin, or the Greek 
Church in the eyes of the Pope, than Abubekr, Omar, and 
Othman have been in the eyes of the Persian and Indian 
Mahometans, who anathematise them as impostors and 

V. The Koran has special claims on our attention as the 
sacred book of the world which can best be compared with our 
own, 1 and which, by that comparison, furnishes not merely an 
evidence to the Divine supremacy of the Bible, but also brings 
into the strongest relief the true character of the contents and 
authority of the Scriptures, in contradistinction to the modern 
theories which have sometimes been formed concerning them. 
' i. In its outward form there are two resemblances to 
different portions of the Bible. First, its chapters are stamped 
by a peculiarly fragmentary and occasional character, written 
as they are at different periods of Mahomet's life, suggested by 
special incidents, modified by the successive exigencies of the 
time, revealing the struggles of his own inward feelings, and in- 
dicating the gradual progress of his career. These features of 
the book, which form its chief charm and its chief difficulty, 
also furnish the best proof of its genuineness. Something of 
the same charm, the same difficulty, and the same evidence is 
afforded by the Pauline Epistles. The force of Paley's argu- 
ment in the " Horae Paulinae " may be tested by its application 
to the Koran. The difficulty which we find in the Koran from 
the contravention of the chronological order in the chapters, of 
which the earliest in time are the latest in position, and some 
of the latest in time amongst the earliest in position, is parallel 
to the confusion introduced into the study of S. Paul's Epistles 
by the disregard of their natural order, which has placed the 
Epistles to the Thessalonians nearly at the end, and the Epistle 
to the Romans at the beginning, of the series. Happily, in the 
case of the Pauline Epistles, the disarrangement has not yet 
become irretrievably stereotyped, as in the Koran, and we are 
therefore still able to reap the benefit of their true historical 
sequence without difficulty. 

The other resemblance is of a totally different kind, and to a 
totally different part of the Scriptures. The position which the 

1 M. Earth elemy St. Hilaire (Journal des Savants, Aug. 1860, p. 460) 
adds the Veda. But the relations of the Veda to the Bible are so much 
more distant, as to make the comparison less easy. 

to the Eastern Church 263 

Koran has assumed in the Mahometan world corresponds more 
nearly than that of any other book or system to the Law or 
Pentateuch in the Jewish Church. It contains the civil as well 
as the moral and religious code of the nations which it governs. 
Its precepts are regarded as binding in the same literal sense as 
was the case with the Mosaic ordinances. It has given birth 
to an order or profession of men exactly similar to the Jewish 
Scribes. The clergy, if we may so call them, of the Mahometan 
Church are also its lawyers. The chief ecclesiastical function- 
ary of Constantinople is also the chief legal officer. His duty 
is to expound the text of the Koran, and furnish such inter- 
pretations of it as will facilitate its application to the changes 
of modern times. The difficulty which arose in the Jewish 
Church, from the expansion and diffusion of the Jewish system 
beyond the pale of Palestine and of the chosen nation, has 
also arisen, though not to the same degree, in Islam. In 
Judaism the difficulty was solved by the submergence of the 
narrower dispensation of the Law in the freedom of the Gospel. 
In Mahometan countries it is solved by forced interpretations, 
bending the sacred text to circumstances which it never con- 
templated, and which it cannot truly cover. 

2. But the contrasts are far greater than the resemblances. 
I do not speak of the acknowledged superiority of the Christian 
doctrine, morals, or philosophy. For this let a single instance 
suffice. What is there in the Koran that can be named for a 
moment, as a proof of inspiration, in comparison with S. PauPs 
description of charity? I confine myself to the contrast of 
form between the two books. The Koran shows us what the 
Bible would be if narrowed down to our puny measurements, 
and what in its own divine and universal excellence it 
actually is. In the comparison between the two we clearly 
see how the Koran is marked by those attributes which we 
sometimes falsely ascribe to the Bible ; how the peculiarities 
which we are sometimes afraid of acknowledging in the Bible 
are exactly those excellences which most clearly distinguish it 
from the Koran. 

(a) The Koran is uniform in style and mode of expression. 
It is true, as I have just remarked, that when chronologically 
arranged it exhibits to us, though in an indistinct form, the 
phases through which the mind of that one person passed. 
It is, as Mahomet's followers called it, " his character." It is, 
in this respect, as the Old Testament might be if it were com- 
posed of the writings of the single prophet Isaiah or Jeremiah, 

264 Mahometanism in its relations 

or the New Testament if it were composed of the writings of 
the single Apostle S. Paul. It is what the Bible as a whole 
would be, if from its pages were excluded all individual person- 
alities of its various writers, all differences of time and place 
and character. But the peculiarity both of the Hebrew and of 
the Christian Scriptures is that they are not confined to one 
place or time or person. They abound in incidents so varied, 
as to give to the whole book that searching application to every 
condition and character of life which has been a principal 
source of its endless edification. The differences between the 
several prophets and historians of the Old Testament, between 
the several evangelists and apostles of the New Testament, are 
full of meaning. On the face of each book we see what each 
book was intended to be and to teach. In each portion of 
each book we see what is prose, and what is poetry ; what is alle- 
gory, or parable, or drama, or vision, or prophecy; what is 
chronicle, or precept, or narrative. The Bible is in this way not 
only its own interpreter, but its own guide. The styles of Scrip- 
ture are so many heaven-planted sign-posts to set our feet in the 
right direction. There is no other book, which, within so short 
a compass, contains such "many coloured [TroAwroi'/ctAos] 
wisdom," such a variety of minds, characters, and situations. 

(b) The Koran represents not merely one single person, but 
one single stage of society. It is, with a few exceptions, purely 
Arabian. It is what the Bible would be, if all external 
influences were obliterated, and it was wrapt up in a single 
phase of Jewish life. But in fact the Bible, though the older 
portion of it is strictly Oriental, and though the latest portion 
of it belongs not to the modern, but to the ancient and now 
extinct, world, yet even in its outward forms contains within 
it the capacities for universal diffusion. Emanating from 
Palestine, the thoroughfare of the Asiatic and European nations, 
itself a country of the most diverse elements of life and 
nature ; it contains allusions to all those general topics which 
find a response everywhere. Whilst the Koran (with a very few 
exceptions) notices no phenomena except those of the desert, 
no form of society except Arabian life, the Bible includes topics 
which come home to almost every condition of life and almost 
every climate. The sea, the mountains, the town ; the pastoral, 
the civilised, the republican, the regal state ; can all find their 
expression in its words. Women emerge from their Oriental 
seclusion and foreshadow the destinies of their sex in European 
Christendom. And not only so, but Egypt, Chaldaea, Persia, 

to the Eastern Church 265 

Greece, Rome, all come into contact with its gradual formation ; 
so that, alone of sacred books, it avowedly includes the words 
and thoughts of religions unconnected by any direct affiliation 
with its own ; alone of Oriental books, it has an affinity of aspect 
with the North and the West ; alone almost, of religious books, 
its story is constantly traversing the haunts of men and cities. 
The Koran " stays at home." The Bible is the book of the 
world, the companion of every traveller ; read even when not 
believed, necessary even when unwelcome. 

(c) The Koran prides itself on its perfection of composition. 
Its pure Arabic style is regarded as a proof of its divinity. 
To translate it into foreign languages l is esteemed by orthodox 
Mussulmans to be impious, and when it is translated its beauty 
and interest evaporate. The book is believed to be in every 
word and point the transcript of the Divine original, Mahomet 
to have been literally "the sacred penman." No various 
readings exist. Whatever it once had were destroyed by the 
Caliph Othman. Such is the strength of the Koran. In far 
other and opposite quarters lies the strength of the Bible ; and 
Christian missionaries, who are, I believe, constantly assailed 
by Mussulman controversialists with arguments drawn from 
this contrast, ought to be well grounded in the knowledge that 
in what their adversaries regard as our weakness is in fact our 
real strength. Its language is not classical, but in the Old 
Testament uncouth, in the New Testament debased ; yet, both 
in the Old and New, just such as suits the truths which it has 
to convey. 2 The primitive forms of Hebrew are as well suited 
for the abrupt simplicity of the prophetic revelations, as they 
would be ill suited for science or philosophy. The indefinite 
fluctuating state of the Greek language at the time of the 
Christian era, admirably lends itself to the fusion of thought 
which the Christian religion produced. Its various readings 
are innumerable, and, in the New Testament, form one of the 
most instructive fields of theological study. Its inspiration is 
not, as in the Koran, attached to its words, and therefore is not, 
as is the Koran, confined to the original language. It is not 
only capable of translation, but lends itself to translation with 

1 The only exceptions to this rule are such versions as unite paraphrase 
with translation. 

2 This is well drawn out by Professor Pusey in regard to the style of the 
Prophets (Commentary on Hosea, pp. 5, 6), and by Professor Jowett in 
regard to the Greek of the New Testament (Commentary on S. Paul, i. 
p. 135 ; Essay on Interpretation, p. 390). 

K 2 

266 Mahometanism in its relations 

peculiar facility. The poetry of the Old Testament, depending 
for the most part, not on rhyme or metre, but on parallelism, 
reappears with almost equal force in every version. The trans- 
lations of the New Testament, from the superiority of most 
modern languages to the debased state of Greek at the time of 
the Christian era, are often superior in beauty of style and 
diction to the original. The Apostles themselves used freely a 
rude version of the Old Testament. We use, without scruple, 
conflicting and erroneous versions of both. The essence of the 
Bible, if the essence be in its spirit, and not in its letter, makes 
itself felt through all. 

(d) The Koran claims a uniform completeness of materials. 
It incorporates, indeed, some of the earlier Jewish, Christian, 
and Arabian traditions, but it professes to be one book. It 
has no degrees of authority in its several chapters, except in 
the few instances of direct abrogation of precepts. With these 
exceptions, it is entirely stationary. It has no progress, and 
therefore no sequence, and no coherence. The Bible, in all 
these respects, stands on what some modern writers would 
deem a lower level, but on what is in fact a far higher one. 
Its composition extends over two thousand eventful years. In 
most of its books are imbedded fragments of some earlier work, 
which have served to keep alive and to exercise the industry 
and acuteness of critics. It is not one Testament, but two. 
It is not one book, but many. The very names by which it 
was called in early times indicate the plurality of its parts. 
The word " Bible," which by a happy solecism expresses the 
unity of its general design, is of far later date and lower 
authority than the words " Scriptures," " The books, Biblia 
Sacra" 1 by which it was called for the first twelve centuries 
of the Christian era, and which expressed the still grander and 
bolder idea of its diversity. The most exact definition which it 
gives of its own inspiration is, that it is " of sundry times and 
in divers manners." 2 In the fact and in the recognition of this 
gradual, partial, progressive nature of the Biblical revelation, 

1 For the original neuter plural of Biblia Sacra (the Sacred Books), the 
feminine singular (whence is derived our word " Bible," Die Bibel, La 
Bible, La Bibbia, &c.) first appears in the I3th century. See Ducange in 
voce Biblia Sacra; Smith's Diet, of Bible under Bible. 

2 Heb. i. i. I have elsewhere had occasion to enlarge on the manifold 
instruction conveyed by this Scriptural definition of Scripture revelation. 
Precisely this same use of the passage was made, in my hearing, by the 
present venerable metropolitan of Moscow, in answer to difficulties sug- 
gested by parts of the Old Testament. 

to the Eastern Church 267 

we find the best answer to most of its difficulties and the best 
guarantee of its perpetual endurance. 

(e) The Koran contains the whole religion of Mahomet. It 
is to the Mussulman, in one sense, far more than the Bible is 
to the Christian. It is his code of laws, his creed, and (to a 
great extent) his liturgy. The Bible, on the other hand, 
demands for its full effect, the institutions, the teaching, the 
art, the society of Christendom. It propagates itself by other 
means than the mere multiplication of its printed or written 
copies. Sacred pictures, as is often said, are the Bibles of the 
unlettered. Good men are living Bibles. Creeds are Bibles 
in miniature. Its truths are capable of expansion and 
progression, far beyond the mere letter of their statement. 
The lives and deeds, and, above all, the One Life, and the 
One Work which it records, spread their influence almost 
irrespectively of the written words in which they were 
originally recorded. It is not in the close limitation of the 
stream to its parent spring, but in the wide overflow of its 
waters, that the true fountain of Biblical inspiration proves 
its divine abundance and vitality. 

" Mohamad's truth lay in a holy book, 
Christ's in a Sacred Life. 

" So while the world rolls on from change to change, 

And realms of thought expand, 
The letter stands without expanse or range, 
Stiff as a dead man's hand. 

" While, as the life-blood fills the growing form, 

The Spirit Christ has shed 

Flows through the ripening ages, fresh and warm, 
More felt than heard or read." l 

VI. It would be irrelevant to enter into any detailed com- 
parison of the doctrines and practices of Islam with those of 
Christianity. But they contain points of special contact or 
contrast which illustrate the course of Christian theology and 
ecclesiastical usages, as the peculiarities of the Koran illustrate 
the position of the Bible and the course of Christian exegesis. 

i. On the one hand, it is the extreme Protestantism, or 
Puritanism, of the East. Whether or not the Iconoclasm of 
the seventh century in Constantinople had any direct con- 
nection with the nearly contemporaneous rise of Mahomet- 

1 Milnes's Palm Leaves, 38. The Preface contains an excellent summary 
of the better side of Mahometanism. 

268 Mahometanism in its relations 

anism, there can be little doubt that the two movements had 
rise in the same feeling of reaction against the excessive 
attention to outward objects of devotion. In the case of 
Mahomet, there was superadded the sentiment, whether 
imitated from the Hebrew Scriptures or instinctive in the 
Arabian branch of the Semitic race, which returned with all its 
force to the belief in the One Unseen God. The Iconoclasm 
of Mahomet far exceeds that either of Leo the Isaurian or of 
John Knox. The Second Commandment, with Mussulmans, 
as with the Jews, was construed literally into the prohibition of 
all representations of living creatures of all kinds ; not merely 
in sacred places, but everywhere. The distinction drawn in 
the West, between churches and houses, between objects of 
worship and objects of art, was in the simpler East unknown. 
The very form and name of "Arabesque" ornamentation, 
always taken from inanimate, never from animated nature, 1 
tells the shifts to which Mahometans were driven, when civilis- 
ation compelled them to use an art which their religion virtually 
forbade. The one exception in the Alhambra (the same that 
occurred in the Palace of Solomon) is an exception that proves 
the rule. The rude misshapen "lions" that support the 
fountain in the beautiful court which bears their name, show 
how unaccustomed to such representations were the hands 
which to all other parts of the building have given so exquisite 
a finish. 

Other points of resemblance to the Reformed branches of 
the Christian Church the more remarkable from the exces- 
sive ritualism of the Eastern Churches, and their almost entire 
neglect of preaching are the simplicity of the Mussulman 
ceremonial, and the importance attached to sermons. The 
service of their sacred day, Friday, is, like Puritan worship, 
chiefly distinguished by the delivery of a discourse. 2 In the 
pilgrimage to Mecca, the delivery of the sermon is said to be 
the most impressive of all the solemnities. There are few 
Christian preachers who might not envy the effect described 
by one 3 not given to exaggerate religious influences : 

"The pulpit at Meccah is surmounted by a gilt polygonal 
pointed steeple, like an obelisk. A straight narrow staircase leads 
up to it. It stands in the great court of the Mosque. When noon 

1 See Burton, ii. 157. 

2 An example is given in Lane's Modern Egyptians, i. 100. 
8 Burton's Pilgrimage, ii. 314; iii. 177. 

to the Eastern Church 269 

drew nigh, we repaired to the haram for the sake of hearing the 
sermon. Descending to the cloisters below the Gate of Ziyadah, I 
stood wonder-struck by the scene before me. The vast quadrangle 
was crowded with worshippers sitting in long rows, and every- 
where facing the central black tower ; the showy colours of their 
dresses were not to be surpassed by a garden of the most brilliant 
flowers, and such diversity of detail as would probably not be seen 
massed together in any other building upon earth. The women, 
a dull and sombre-looking groupe, sat apart in their peculiar 
place. The Pacha stood on the roof of Zem-Zem, surrounded by 
guards in Nizam uniform. Where the principal Ulema stationed 
themselves, the crowd was thicker ; and in the more auspicious 
spots nought was to be seen but a pavement of heads and 
shoulders. Nothing seemed to move but a few dervishes, who, 
censer in hand, sidled through the rows and received the un- 
solicited alms of the faithful. Apparently in the midst, and raised 
above the crowd by the tall pointed pulpit, whose gilt spire flamed 
in the sun, sat the preacher, an old man with snowy beard. The 
style of head-dress called the Taylasan (a scarf thrown over the 
head, with one end brought round under the chin and passed over 
the left shoulder) covered his turban, which was as white l as his 
robes, and a short staff supported his left hand. Presently he 
arose, took the staff in his right hand, pronounced a few inaudible 
words ('Peace be with you, and the mercy of God, and his 
blessings '), and sat down again on one of the lower steps, whilst 
a Muezzin, at the foot of the pulpit, recited the call to sermon. 
Then the old man stood up and began to preach. As the majestic 
figure began to exert itself, there was a deep silence. Presently a 
general * Amin ' was intoned by the crowd at the conclusion of 
some long sentence. And at last, towards the end of the sermon, 
every third or fourth word was followed by the simultaneous rise 
and fall of thousands of voices. I have seen the religious cere- 
monies of many lands, but never nowhere aught so solemn, so 
impressive as this spectacle." 

2. But in spite of the likeness to the more modern and 
northern forms of Western Christianity, Mahometanism after 
all has far more affinity to the older, and especially to the 
Eastern forms of the Christian Church. 

Most of the peculiarities that characterise the Greek or the 
Latin Church, have their counterparts in the Mahometan 

(a) In one instance, the Jewish element survives almost 
unaltered. "The Mahometan religion," says Gibbon, as if 

1 In former times, the preacher was habited from head to foot in black, 
and two muezzins held black flags fixed in rings, one on each side of the 
pulpit, with the staves propped upon the first step. 

270 Mahometanism in its relations 

in praise of its purity, "has no Priest and no Sacrifice." 
This statement must be considerably qualified. Sacrifice, 
though it forms no part of the daily worship in the mosque, yet 
on solemn occasions is an essential element of the Mussulman 
ritual. It is generally, if not universally, of the nature of a 
thank-offering, and, as in the case of most ancient sacrifices, is 
combined with an act of benevolence to the poor. To the 
Bedouin Arabs it is almost their only act of devotion. It was 
only under the pretext of sacrificing on the tomb of Aaron that 
Burckhardt was able to enter Petra. The railroad, recently 
opened from the Danube to the Black Sea, was inaugurated 
by the sacrifice of two sheep. The vast slaughter 1 of victims 
at Mecca is the only scene now existing in the world that 
recalls the ancient sacrifices of Jew or Pagan. In short, it 
might be said that, so far from Mahometanism being the only 
religion without a sacrifice, it is the only civilised religion that 
retains a sacrifice, not spiritually or mystically, but in the 
literal ancient sense. 

(ft) Although a priesthood, in the sense of an hereditary or 
sacrificing caste, is not found in the Mahometan world, yet a 
priesthood in the sense in which it is found in Protestant or 
Catholic Christendom, a powerful hierarchy, possessed of 
property and influence, and swaying the religious feelings 
of mankind, exists in Mahometan even more than in Christian 
countries. The identification of the Koran with the Law at 
once raises the order of the interpreters of the Koran to a 
level with the highest legal dignitaries of the West. The office 
of Scribes, as we have seen, is exactly reproduced. The 
Sheykh-el-Islam, the great ecclesiastical functionary at Con- 
stantinople, who unites in himself the functions of the Primate 
and the Lord Chancellor, is, or at least was till lately, as 
considerable a personage as any prelate in Christendom short 
of the Pope. The Sheykh-el-Bekr, at Cairo the lineal descend- 
ant of Abu-Bekr the administrator of the property of the 
mosques, is at least as high in popular estimation as Archi- 
mandrite, Abbot, or Dean, in East or West. The Muftis 2 and 
the Dervishes are a body as formidable to Mussulman rulers 
and laymen as any body of ecclesiastics or monks would be to 
the same classes amongst ourselves. To the dervishes the same 

1 See Burton, iii. 303, 313. 

2 This importance does not attach to the Imams, or the Preachers. 
They are mostly persons of humble condition and attainments, and com- 
bine their office with some other occupation. 

to the Eastern Church 271 

blame and the same praise might be awarded as to the friars of 
the Western, or the hermits of the Eastern Church. 1 

(c) If it is startling to find this system of earthly mediation 
in a religion which we are often taught to consider as allowing 
no intervening obstacle between man and the One True God, 
still more are we surprised to find that the same system of 
celestial mediation in the form of the worship or veneration of 
saints, 2 which prevails through the older portions of Christen- 
dom, has overspread the whole of the Mahometan world. 
Bedouins who go nowhere else to pray, 3 will pray beside the 
tomb of a saint. The " Welys," or white tombs of Mussulman 
saints, form a necessary feature of all Mussulman landscapes. 
It is a significant fact that the westernmost outpost of 
Mahometan worship the last vestige of the retiring tide of 
Turkish conquest from Europe is the tomb of a Turkish 
saint. On a height above the Danube, at Buda, the little 
chapel still remains, visited once a year by Mussulman 
pilgrims, who have to thread their way to it up a hill which is 
crowned with a Calvary, and through a vineyard clustering with 
the accursed grape. The Arabian traveller of the middle ages, 
who visits Thebes, 4 passes over all the splendour of its ruins, 
and mentions only the grave of a Mussulman hermit. The 
sanctity of the dead man is attested by the same means as in 
the Eastern churches, 5 generally by the supposed incorrupti- 
bility of the corpse. The intercession of a well-known saint 
is invested with peculiar potency. However much the de- 
scendants of a companion of a Prophet plunder or oppress, 
they are secure in the celestial protection of their ecclesiastical 

These features it has in common with the doctrines and 
practices of the Latin, as well as the Greek Church. It is 
evident, on the one hand, that, being the products of a religion 
outside the pale of Christendom, they cannot be regarded as 
essentially and peculiarly Christian; and, on the other hand, 
that, being the natural growth of human feeling everywhere, 
they may be regarded calmly, and without the terror or the 

1 See Lecture X. ; and comp. Wolff's Life, i. 483. 

2 Compare Wolffs Life, i. 505. 

3 Comp. Sprenger, 107. It was against the wish of Mahomet himself. 
See Burton, ii. 71. 

4 "I went to the town of Luxor, which is small but pretty. There one 
sees the tomb of the pious hermit of Abou 1'Hagag, near which is a 
hermitage." Ibn Batoutah y p. 107. This is all that he says of Thebes. 

5 Burton, ii. in. 

272 Mahometanism in its relations 

irritation which is produced when they are looked upon as the 
heritage of a near and rival sect. 

3. There are yet other points in which Mahometanism, as 
being essentially an Oriental religion, approaches most nearly 
to the forms of Eastern Christendom, though retaining some 
defects and some excellences of the East, which even Eastern 
Churches have modified or rejected. 

(a) The legal, literal, local, ceremonial character of the 
religion of Mussulmans is, in spite of its simplicity, carried 
to a pitch beyond the utmost demands either of Rome or of 
Russia. What their ideas of the Koran are, compared with 
even the narrowest ideas of the Bible, we have already seen. 
Prayer is reduced to a mechanical as distinct from a mental act, 
beyond any ritual observances in the West. It is striking to 
see the figures along the banks of the Nile going through their 
prostrations, at the rising of the sun, with the uniformity and 
regularity of clockwork ; but it resembles the worship of 
machines rather than of reasonable beings. Within a confined 
circle of morality the code of the Koran makes doubtless a 
deeper impression than has been made on Christians by the 
code of the Bible. But beyond that circle there is but little 
of the vivifying influence which the Bible has unquestionably 
exercised even over the unconscious instincts and feelings of 
Christendom. Morality and religion, which stand sufficiently 
far asunder in the practice of Oriental Christianity, stand 
further still apart in the practice of a large part of Islam. 

(b) The absence of religious art which we have already 
observed in Eastern, as distinct from Western, Christendom, is 
carried to the highest point by Mahometans. Partly this arises 
from the iconoclastic tendency before mentioned ; but mainly 
it is the result of that carelessness of artistic effort which belongs 
to all Oriental nations. However tedious is the monotony of 
the Christian Churches of the East, that of Mahometan mosques 
is still more so. 

(c) But if art is banished from their worship, reason is no less 
banished from the creed, at least of the vulgar. The reckless 
extravagance of credulity which strikes us in Oriental Christians, 
strikes us still more in Mahometans. There are no miracles in 
the Koran ; but this only brings out into stronger relief the 
insatiable avidity with which any expression that could bear 
such a meaning has been magnified and multiplied into the 
wildest portents. It is the childish invention of the Arabian 
Nights let loose upon the unseen world.. "I knew a man in 

to the Eastern Church 273 

Christ above fourteen years ago," says S. Paul, 1 " (whether in 
the body or out of the body I know not, God knoweth) ; such 
an one caught up into the third heaven. . . . How that he 
was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable things 
which it is not lawful for man to utter." Neither Scripture nor 
tradition says one word further to break this silence thus 
imposed upon himself by the Apostle. Contrast with this the 
endless stories told (as it would seem from his latest bio- 
grapher 2 ) by Mahomet, after his vision of the nocturnal flight 
from Mecca, to his inquiring disciples, of the wonders of 
Paradise, of the peculiarities of the gigantic Borak, of the 
personal appearance of each of the departed prophets, of the 
leaves of the tree of life, of the immeasurable distances between 
the heavenly spheres. 

(d) The frantic excitement of the old Oriental religions still 
lingers in their modern representatives. The mad gambols of 
the Greek and Syrian pilgrims round the Chapel of the Holy 
Sepulchre have been sufficiently told. But they ought in 
justice to be compared with the still wilder frenzy of the Mussul- 
man dervishes. Both are Eastern ; both belong to those wild 
forms of religion which S. Paul laboured to restrain amongst 
the first Christian converts. 3 But the Mahometan shows in 
excess what the other shows in comparative moderation. Of 
all modern ceremonials, none probably comes so near the 
description of the priests of Baal, cutting themselves with 
knives and lancets, leaping on and around the altar, and shout- 
ing from morning till evening, " O Baal, hear us ! " as the 
celebration of the Prophet's birthday at Cairo, 4 when the 
dervishes, by the constant repetition of the name of " Allah, 
Allah," are worked into a state of unconsciousness, in which 
they plant swords in their breasts, tear live serpents with their 
teeth, eat bottles of glass, and finally lie prostrate on the ground 
for the chief of their order to ride on horseback over their 

(e) As in these extravagancies, so also in some of its 
noblest aspects, we see the same spirit reappearing in 
Mahometanism that we have already noticed in the Churches 
of the East. 

That manly independence which knows no false shame or 

1 2 Cor. xii. 2-6. 2 Sprenger's Mohamed, i. 126, 136. 

8 i Cor. xiv. 26-40. 

4 I write from my own recollections. An accurate description is given in 
Lane's Modern Egyptians, ii. 200-222. 

274 Mahometanism in its relations 

reserve in professing its religion in the face of the world, is the 
noble heritage of the Turk and the Arab, as much as of the 
Greek or the Russian. It is this which renders the Mussulman, 
even more than the Christian layman of the East, a priest to 
himself, independent of the instructions and the influence of the 
hierarchy, whom he yet regards with profound veneration. It 
is this (combined no doubt with the mechanical nature of their 
prayers, to which I have before alluded) that renders their 
devotions so natural, so easy, so public. It is this which lends 
to every Oriental congregation, but especially to every Mussul- 
man congregation, its main distinction from every Western , 
congregation, namely, the immense preponderance of men over 
women. In many Western Churches the man is the exception 
amongst the worshippers ; in all Eastern mosques the exception 
is the woman. 

The gravity and the temperance of the Mussulman are doubt- 
less congenial to the dignity and simplicity of Oriental life. In 
these respects, both Western and Eastern Christianity, though 
gaining more, have lost much. " An Eastern city has no 
exhibitions of paintings, no concerts, no dramatic represent- 
ations, only recitations of tales in prose and verse in coffee- 
houses ; and the prohibition of games of chance excludes cards 
and dice. Wine can only be drunk in private. . . . Gravity, 
not dissipation, is, at least in public, the characteristic of a 
Mahometan nation." 1 

Finally, the Mussulman preserves to the world the truest and 
most literal likeness of that ancient Jewish faith which is ex- 
pressed in the word " Islam," " Resignation " to the will of God. 
However distorted it may be into fatalism and apathy, yet it is 
still a powerful motive both in action and in suffering. God is 
present to them, in a sense in which He is rarely present to us 
amidst the hurry and confusion of the West. If " the love of 
God " is a feeling peculiar to Christendom, yet the " fear of 
God " within a narrow circle may be profitably studied, even 
by Christians, in the belief and the conduct of the followers of 

These are the qualities which, being not so much Mahometan 
or Arabian, as Oriental, primitive, Semitic, and (in the best 
sense of the word) Jewish, no Christian can regard without 
reverence, even in their humblest form ; nor can he abandon 
the hope that if ever the time should come for the gathering of 

1 Dr. Macbride's Mahometanism, p. 179. 

to the Eastern Church 275 

the followers of Mahomet within the Christian fold, gifts like 
these need not be altogether lost to the world and the Church 
in the process of that transition ; that the habits of temperance, 
devotion, and resignation, which Mussulman belief encourages, 
may be combined with the grace, the humility, the purity, the 
freedom of the Gospel. 



THE main accessible authorities for the history of the Russian 
Church are, as far as I have been able to ascertain them, the 
following : 

1. Nestor, the Monk of Kieff. A.D. 1116. 5 vols. (Edited by 

Schlozer. German. 1802.) 

2. Karamsin's "History of Russia." n vols. 8vo, to 1618. (Trans- 

lated into French.) 

3. Oustralieff s " History of Russia." 5 vols. to 1815. (Translated, 

not published, by the Rev. R. W. Blackmore.) 

4. Strahl's and Hermann's " History of Russia." 6 vols. to 1815. 


5. Mouravieff's "History of the Russian Church." I vol. 8vo, to 

1710. (Translated by the Rev. R. W. Blackmore.) 

6. Strahl's " Contributions to the Russian Church History." I vol. 

8vo. (German.) It contains : 

a. A Catalogue Raisonnee of the Documentary History of the 

Russian Church. 

b. A Chronologic?! Summary of Ecclesiastical History in 


c. A History of the Russian Sects. 

d. A Chronological List of the Russian Hierarchy. 

7. "Doctrines of the Russian Church." I vol. 8vo. (Translated by 

the Rev. R. W. Blackmore.) 

8. "History of the Church of Russia." (An able summary in the 

Christian Remembrancer, vol. x. p. 245. By the Rev. James B. 
Mozley. ) 

9. Adelung's "Catalogue Raisonnee of Travellers in Russia." 

10. " Monumenta Historise Russicse." 2 vols. 8vo. (Being a collection 

of foreign State Papers bearing on Russia.) 

11. Haxthausen's " Researches in Russia." (German and French.) 

The third great historical manifestation of the Oriental Church 
is the formation of the Russian Church and Empire. 

Before I enter upon its leading divisions, let me give the 
main reasons why a history so obscure in itself, and in some 
of its features so repulsive, deserves to be specially noticed 
in connection with the history of the Eastern Church, and 
why it is fitly considered before we cross the threshold of the 
history which most concerns ourselves, the history of the 
Western Church generally, and of the English Church in 

I. The Russian Church is the only important portion of 


The Russian Church 277 

Eastern Christendom, which presents any continuous history. 
The two other epochs which we have noticed, although highly 
instructive in themselves, are yet isolated events, rather than 
long sustained movements. They represent particular phases 
of Eastern religion. They do not represent it in its active 
organisation, in its effects on national character, or its 
relations to the ordinary vicissitudes of men and of Empires. 
Western ecclesiastical history would lose more than half its 
charms, if it had not for its subject the great national 
Churches of Europe. And in like manner Eastern ecclesias- 
tical history must fail of its purpose, unless it can find some 
field in which we can trace from century to century, and in 
their full-blown development, those principles and practices 
of the Oriental Church which have been already unfolded in 
general terms. 

This field is presented in the Russian Church. In it alone 
we trace a growth and progress analogous to that which Western 
or Latin Christianity found in the Teutonic tribes of Europe. 
And, although the Northern and Sclavonic elements form the 
basis of the Church and Empire of Russia, yet by its situation, 
by its origin, and by the singular powers of imitation with which 
its members are gifted, it is essentially Asiatic and Oriental. 
And, further, through the gradual incorporation of Russia into 
the commonwealth of Western nations, the Eastern Church has 
acquired a voice or speech, which it has lost, or has never 
gained, elsewhere. The feeling which the native Russians 
entertain towards the Western world is a likeness of the feeling 
which we ourselves entertain towards the Eastern world. The 
Russian word for a foreigner, but especially for a German, is 
"the dumb," "the speechless;" and it has happened within 
the experience of an English traveller, that Russian peasants, 
passing by and seeing a conversation going on in a foreign 
language, have exclaimed in astonishment " Look at those 
people ; they are making a noise, and yet they cannot speak ! " 
Very similar to this is the way in which, as a general rule, we 
regard, almost of necessity, the Eastern Churches generally. 
To us, with whatever merits of their own, they are dumb. 
Their languages, their customs, their feelings, are unknown to 
us. We pass by and see them doing or saying something 
wholly unintelligible to us, and we say "Look at those 
people ; they are making a noise, and yet they cannot speak ! " 
Iii a great measure this difficulty severs us from the Russian 
Church, as well as from the other branches of Oriental 


The Russian Church 

Christendom. Still, in Russia, if anywhere in the East, we can 
from time to time listen and understand with advantage. The 
Sclavonic power of imitation opens a door which elsewhere is 
closed. The Western influences which from the age of Peter 
have streamed into Russia, though they have often undermined 
the national character, have yet, where this is not the case, 
given to it the power, not only of expressing itself in Western 
languages, but of understanding Western ideas, and adapting 
itself to Western minds. A Russian alone presents, amidst 
whatever defects and drawbacks, this singular interest ; that he 
is an Asiatic, 1 but with the sensibility and intelligence of a 
European : 2 that he is, if he will, a- barbarian, but with the 
speech and communications of civilisation. "Scratch him," 
said the Prince De Ligne, "and you will always find the Tartar 
underneath." Most true ; but it is just that superficial coating 
of civilised life which brings " the Tartar " into contact with us, 
whom else we should never catch at all. " The Tartar," the 
Oriental, who in the Armenian, the Syrian, or the Abyssinian 
Church eludes our grasp altogether, in the Russian Church is 
within our touch, within our questioning, within our hearing. 

II. Another peculiarity of the history of the Church of 
Russia is that it enables us within a short compass to go through 
the whole field of ecclesiastical history, which in the West, 
whilst familiar to us in detail, is too vast to be comprehended 
in any one survey. With many differences, produced by diverse 
causes, of climate, of theology, of race, the history of the 
Russian Empire and Church presents a parallel to the history 
of the whole European Church, from first to last, not merely 
fanciful and arbitrary, but resulting from its passage through 
similar phases, in which the likenesses are more strongly 
brought out by the broad differences just mentioned. The 
conversion of the Sclavonic races was to the Church of Con- 

1 A few of their Eastern customs may be mentioned, to which, doubtless, 
any one better acquainted with the country could add many more. I. The 
practice of taking off the shoes on entering any great presence. This, 
though now discontinued, was till lately commemorated by the picture of 
Joshua taking off his shoes at the entrance of the Hall of the Kremlin. 
2. The corner of a room is still the place of honour. The sacred picture is 
always in the corner. The Czar, at the coronation banquet, sits in the 
corner. The corners of the Patriarchal church are occupied by the most 
illustrious tombs. 3. The seclusion of women lasted till the time of Peter, 
and still is kept up (in church) in the Russian sects. 4. The Orientalism of 
ecclesiastical usages they share with the rest of the Eastern Church. 

2 " They look as if they had had a Turk for their father and a Quaker for 
their mother." Princess Dashkoff* s Memoirs t ii. 318 

The Russian Church 279 

stantinople, what the conversion of the Teutonic races was 
to the Church of Rome. The Papacy and the Empire of 
Charlemagne had, as we shall see, their dim reflection on the 
throne of Moscow. Russia, as well as Europe, had its middle 
ages, though, as might be expected from its later start in the 
race of civilisation, extending for a longer period. The Church 
of Russia, as well as the Church of Europe, has had its 
Reformation, almost its Revolution, its internal parties, and 
its countless sects. 

The events are few ; the characters are simple ; but we shall 
read in them again and again, as in a parable, our own short- 
comings, our own controversies, our own losses. The parts of 
the drama are differently cast. The Eastern element comes 
in to modify and qualify principles which we have here carried 
out to their full length, and beyond it; but it is this very 
inversion of familiar objects and watchwords which is so useful 
a result of the study of ecclesiastical history, and which is best 
learned where the course of events is at once so unlike and so 
like to our own, as in the Church of Russia. 

III. In Russian history, the religious aspect, on which our 
thoughts must be fixed in these Lectures, is on the one hand 
that part of it which is the least known, and yet on the other 
hand is full of interest, and not beyond our apprehension. It 
has been sometimes maintained by writers on political 
philosophy, that, however important in the formation of 
individual life and character, Religion cannot be reckoned 
amongst the leading elements of European progress and civilis- 
ation. I do not enter into the general discussion; but the 
great Empire of which we are speaking, if it has not been 
civilised, has unquestionably been kept alive, by its religious 
spirit. As in all the Eastern nations, so in Russia, the national 
and the religious elements have been identified far more closely 
than in the West, and this identification has been continued, 
at least outwardly, in a more unbroken form. Its religious 
festivals are still national ; its national festivals are still religious. 
Probably the last great historical event which in any European 
state has externally assumed a religious, almost an ecclesiastical, 
form is nearly the only event familiar to most of us in Russian 
history, namely, the expulsion of the French from Moscow. 
From the moment when Napoleon, according to the popular 
belief, was struck to the ground with awe at the sight of the 
thousand towers of the Holy City, as they burst upon his view 
when he stood on the Hill of Salutation, to the moment when 

280 The Russian Church 

the tidings came of the final retreat " of the Gauls and of the 
thirty nations," as they are called, the whole atmosphere of 
the Russian resistance is religious as much as it is patriotic. 
The sojourn of the French in the Kremlin is already interwoven 
with religious legends, as if it had been an event of the middle 
ages. A magnificent cathedral has been added to the countless 
churches already existing in Moscow to commemorate the 
deliverance. " God with us " is the motto which adorns its 
gateway, as it was the watchword of the armies of the Czar. 
The sects, on the other hand, regarded Napoleon as their 
deliverer. Some of their most extravagant fanatics formed a 
deputation to him at Moscow. According to them he was a 
natural son of Catherine II., was brought up in a Russian 
university, and still lives concealed in Turkey, but will reappear 
as a chosen vessel in the moment 1 of their triumph. The 
services of Christmas Day are almost obscured by those which 
celebrate the retreat of the invaders on that same day, the 25th 
of December 1812, from the Russian soil; the last of that long 
succession of national thanksgivings, which begin with the 
victory of the Don and the flight of Tamerlane, and end with 
the victory of the Beresina and the flight of Napoleon. " How 
art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning ! " 
This is the lesson appointed for the services of that day. 
" There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the 
stars, and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity. 
Look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth 
nigh." This is the Gospel of the day. " Who through faith 
subdued kingdoms, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the 
armies of the aliens." This is the Epistle. 

I -have dwelt on the religious aspect of this crisis, both 
because it may serve to remind us that there is at least one 
event in the history of the Eastern Church with which we are 
all acquainted ; and also because, coming as it does at the end 
of a series of similar deliverances and celebrations, it brings 
before us one special interest which the Russian ecclesiastical 
history possesses ; namely, its relation, both by way of likeness 
and illustration, to the history of the Jewish Church of old. 
Hardly in any European nation shall we so well understand 
the identity of the religious and national life in the ancient 
Theocracy, as through the struggles of the Russian people 
against their several invaders; the keenness with which they 

1 Revue des Deux Mondes, xv. 611. 

The Russian Church 281 

appropriate the history of the Old dispensation is but the 
natural result of their (in many respects) analogous situation. 
In the sculptures of the cathedral of which I have just spoken 
as the monument of the deliverance of Moscow, it is the 
execution of one and the same idea, when the groupes from 
Russian history alternate with scenes from the story of Joshua's 
entrance into Palestine, of Deborah encouraging Barak, of 
David returning from the slaughter of Goliath, of the coron- 
ation and the grandeur of Solomon. 

For these reasons, amongst others, I propose to give a rapid 
view of the main characteristics of the history of the Russian 
Church. Its doctrines, its ritual, and its actual condition 
have been virtually described in connection with the rest of 
Oriental Christendom, and to repeat this, or to represent as 
peculiarly Russian what is common to the whole East, would 
be at once superfluous and misleading. 

The story of the Russian Church divides itself into four 
periods : 

I. The period of its foundation, from the close of the loth 
century to the beginning of the i4th. 

II. The period of its consolidation, from the beginning of 
the i4th century to the middle of the lyth. 

III. The period of its transition, from the middle of the 
iyth century to the beginning of the i8th. 

IV. The period of its reformation, from the beginning of 
the 1 8th century to the present time. 

We begin, then, with the foundation of the Church in the 
conversion of the Russian nation. 

It is a standing reproach cast by the Latin Church in the 
teeth of her elder sisters of the East, that Constantinople and 
its dependencies have never been centres of missionary opera- 
tions comparable to those which have emanated from Rome, 
or from England. 

The truth of the reproach must, in a great measure, be 
conceded, and arises from causes of which I have spoken 
before. But still it must not be accepted without considerable 
modifications. It was not without reason that Gregory 
Nazianzen, 1 in a passage which has been happily applied of 
late to our own country, describes Constantinople, even as 
early as the fourth century, as " a city which is the eye of the 
world, the strongest by sea and land, the bond of union between 

1 i- 755- Quoted in a remarkable sermon on the " Evangelisation of 
India," by the Rev. G. H. Curteis, p. 35. 

282 The Russian Church 

East and West, to which the most distant extremes from all 
sides come together, and to which they look up as to a common 
centre and emporium of the faith." Even on the Teutonic 
races one irregular attempt was made by the Byzantine Church, 
which, had it succeeded, would have changed the face of 
Christendom. The mission of the Greek Bishop, Ulfilas, to 
the Gothic tribes, wrought wonders for a time. 1 Down to the 
conversion of Clovis, whatever Christianity they had received 
was from this source ; and when Augustine, in his great work 
on the " City of God," celebrates the charity and clemency of 
Alaric and his followers during the sack of Rome, we must 
remember that these Christian graces were entirely due to the 
teaching of Oriental missionaries, heretics though they were. 
The very word "Church," as used throughout the Teutonic 
tribes, was often in former times, and is still by some learned 
scholars, derived from the adaptation of the Greek word 
KvptaKrj, as received from the Byzantine preachers. But the 
rapid changes of events in the West swept away any permanent 
traces of the work of Ulfilas. It has now nothing but a philo- 
logical interest. Its chief memorial is the venerable volume 
of his translation of the Bible into the Gothic tongue, the 
parent, so to speak, of all the Teutonic versions of Scripture, 
the silver-lettered manuscript, fitly deposited in the chief library 
of the Scandinavian people, in the University of Upsala. 2 

It is not in the Teutonic but in the Sclavonic race that the 
Eastern Church has reaped the richest harvest. The conver- 
sion of the Sclavonic tribes on the confines of the Byzantine 
Empire is not to be altogether overlooked. One name at 
least of European significance has been contributed to ecclesi- 
astical history from this quarter. John Huss of Bohemia was 
a genuine son of the Sclavonic family, and it is perhaps 
more than a mere fancy which traces a likeness between his 
conceptions of reformation and those of his more Eastern 
brethren ; and which derives his spiritual pedigree, if on the 
one hand from our own English Wycliffe, on the other hand, in 
remoter times, from the two Greek Bishops to whom I shall 
have occasion again to refer, Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles 
of Bulgaria and Moravia. 

1 The whole of the complicated question of the mission of Ulfilas is well 
discussed in Professor Miiller's Lectures on the Science of Language, 2nd 
edit. 179-184. 

2 There are also fragments in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, procured 
from the monastery of Bobbio. (Ib. 184.) 

The Russian Church 283 

But the centre and life of the Sclavonic race have always 
been in those wilds of Scythia, 1 which have alternately invited 
or sent forth conquerors to and from the adjacent seats of 
civilisation in Greece or Asia Minor. The story of the Russian 
conversion may be divided into two portions, the legendary and 
the historical ; and each portion in the present instance is so 
characteristic of the nation, and so illustrative, of like events in 
the West, that I will not scruple to dwell upon each of them 
in detail. 

i. I have before spoken of the peculiar connection of 
Oriental Christianity with the natural features of the regions 
which it has traversed : and in all countries this connection is 
more visible in the primitive stages of nations than in their 
subsequent growth. The geographical and historical relations 
of a country so monotonous as Russia are indeed far less 
striking than in the diversified forms of Greece and Syria, of 
Egypt and Chaldaea. Endless forests, endless undulating 
plains, invite no local associations and foster no romantic 
legends. But there is one feature of Russian scenery truly 
grand, its network of magnificent rivers. These, important 
for its political and commercial interests, are the threads with 
which its religious destinies have been always curiously inter- 
woven. Turn your mind's eye to the vast stream of the 
Dnieper, the old Borysthenes, as it rolls into the Euxine. 
Over the banks of that stream, five hundred miles from its 
mouth, hangs a low range of hills, low for any other country, 
but high for the level steppes of Russia, and therefore called 
Kieff, " the mountain." From that mountain, we are told, a 
noble prospect commands the course of the river ; and up the 
course of that river, on his way from Sinope to Rome, came, 
according to the ancient legend, Andrew, the Apostle of Greece, 
the Apostle of Scythia : and as he rose in the morning and saw 
the heights of Kieff, on which he planted the first cross, he 
said, ""See you those hills ? For on those hills shall hereafter 
shine forth the grace of God. There shall be a great city, and 
God shall cause many churches to rise within it." 2 And so he 
passed on by the north to Italy. 

1 The name "Russ," Hebrew Rosh, LXX. 'Pus, unfortunately mistrans- 
lated in the English version "the chief," first appears in Ezek. xxxviii. 
2, 3, xxxix. i. It is the only name of a modern nation found in the Old 
Testament. (See Gesenius, in voce.} 

2 See Nestor (ed. Schlozer) ii. 93. See also the strange legend which 
derives the name of Russia from S. Andrew's exclamation when put into 
the hot-vapour bath : "iSpcotra, "I sweat." Travels of Macarius, ii. 186. 


The Russian Church 

But northward another legend meets us of more grotesque 
shape. A saint of doubtful name and origin 1 started from Italy 
on one of those voyages which mediaeval credulity delighted 
to invent and to receive. He was thrown into the Tiber with 
a millstone round his neck, and on or with this millstone passed 
out of the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean ; through 
the islands of the Baltic he passed on into the Neva; through 
the Neva he reached the Lake of Ladoga; from the Ladoga 
Lake he floated into the broad Volkhoff; and from the 
Volkhoff, on the shores of the Lake of Ilmen, he found himself 
by the walls of the great Novgorod, the irresistible republic of 
Old Russia, the precursor of the northern capital of the New. 

These are fables of which every line is a quaint lesson in 
geography. But they also dimly foreshadow, even as geography 
itself foreshadows, the fortunes of the Empires and Churches 
which are founded upon them. The Dnieper and the Neva 
are the two inlets by which life and light have penetrated into 
the vast deserts of Russia, from the East and from the West ; 
through the race of the Norman Ruric, and through the race 
of the Byzantine Caesars ; through Vladimir in the first age, 
and through Peter in the last age, of the Russian Church. 
Kieff and Petersburg form the two extremities 'of Russian 
history, ecclesiastical as well as civil. The central sacred city 
of Moscow forms the point of transition, the point of contact 
between them, and will form the chief scene of the second and 
third periods of the Russian Church, as Petersburg of the 
fourth, and Kieff of the first. 

2. From this legendary beginning I pass to the actual 
completion of the conversion of Russia as it is described by 
Nestor, 2 himself a monk of Kieff, who occupies in the history 
of Russia almost the same position as that held in our own by 
the Venerable Bede. 

The time coincides with a great epoch in Europe, the close 
of the tenth century. When throughout the West the end of 
the world was fearfully expected, when the Latin Church was 
overclouded with the deepest despondency, when the Papal 
See had become the prey of ruffians and profligates, then it 
was that the Eastern Church, silently and almost unconsciously, 
bore into the world her mightiest offspring. 

1 He was either S. Nicolas or Antony the Roman. A cup is shown in 
the treasury of the Assumption Church as brought by him. See Travels of 
Macarius, ii. 192, 193. 

2 He lived A.D. 1050 to 1116. (Nestor, ed. Schlozer, i. 7, 8, 9.) 

The Russian Church 285 

The one seed of energy and activity that had been in the 
ninth century scattered over Europe had also fallen upon Russia. 
The Norman race, which played so important a part in the 
civil and religious history of the West, as the allies or protectors 
of the Papal See, and as the founders of new dynasties in 
France, in Italy, in Sicily, and in England, had also established 
themselves on the throne of Russia in the family of Ruric. 
It is to his descendant Vladimir that the Russian Church 
looks back as its founder. In the conversion of each of the 
European nations there is a kind of foretaste or reflection of 
the national character and religion, which gives to the study of 
them an interest over and above their intrinsic importance. 
The conversations of Ethelbert with Augustine, and of Clovis 
with Remigius, present peculiar elements characteristic re- 
spectively of the French and English people. This is eminently 
the case with the conversion of Vladimir. And the account 
has further these two special advantages. First, though not 
actually by an eye-witness, it is yet by a narrator within the 
next generation, and is thus given with a detail which may 
serve to illustrate all like events. Nowhere else shall we see 
so clearly the mixture of craft and simplicity, of rough barbarian 
sense and wild superstition; of savage force bowing down 
before the mere display of a civilised religion. We may be 
grieved, as we read, that through such weak and trivial means 
such great results should be brought about; but every such 
case is a repetition on a gigantic scale, and in a various sense, 
of the parable of the grain of mustard seed. Secondly, the 
story of the conversion of Vladimir gives us an opportunity, 
such as we rarely possess, of a general survey of the whole of 
Christendom, from a contemporary point of view. He, in this 
position won for him by his ancestors or himself, had become 
the object of attention to the different forms of religion then 
prevailing in the world. He is approached by each in turn. 
He approaches each in turn. We have, if not the very words 
in which he and they described their mutual impressions, yet 
at least the words in which one who lived almost within their 
generation thought it likely that they would have spoken. 

Let us, as nearly as possible, follow the narrative of Nestor, 
and apply as we proceed the remarks which I have just made. 

Whatever beginnings of the Christian faith had already been 
imparted to Russia here and there had made but little per- 
manent impression. Adelbert, the great Western missionary of 
this period, attacked the Sclavonic Pagans, not in Russia, but 

286 The Russian Church 

in the Isle of Rugen, 1 on the extreme point of which a heathen 
temple remained till the twelfth century. Oskold and Dir may 
have been terrified into baptism by a storm at Constantinople ; 
Olga may have been attracted to it by a sense of policy ; but 
her grandson Vladimir was a ferocious prince, as much dis- 
tinguished by his zeal for the rude idolatry of his countrymen 
as for his savage crimes. 

To him, we are told, midway between the 6oooth and 
7oooth year of the world according to the ancient Eastern 
era, in the year 986 according to the Christian era of the 
West, there came envoys from the different religions of the 
then known world. 

First came the Bulgarian Mussulmans from the Volga. 2 
" Wise and prudent prince as thou art, thou knowest neither 
law nor religion. Believe in ours, and honour Mahomet." 
" In what does your religion consist? " asked Vladimir. " We 
believe in God," they replied, "but we believe also in what the 
Prophet teaches. Be circumcised, abstain from pork, drink no 
wine ; and after death choose out of seventy beautiful wives 
the most beautiful." Valadimir listened to them for the last 
reason. But that which he did not like was circumcision, the 
abstinence from pork, and above all the prohibition of 
drinking. "Drinking is the great delight of Russians/' he 
said ; "we cannot live without it." 

Next came the representatives of Western Christendom. 
The question whence they came, or were thought to come, 
wavers in the story. From the Pope ? From Germany ? 
From the sect then widely known, now almost forgotten, 
premature Protestants, the Paulicians ? 3 "The Pope," they 
said, " beg;s us to tell you, your country is like ours, but not 
your religion. Ours is the right. We fear God, who made 
the heaven and earth, the stars and the moon, and every living 
creature, whilst thy Gods are of wood." " What does your 
law command ? " asked Vladimir. " We fast," they said, " to 
the best of our power ; and when any one eats or drinks, he 
does it in honour of God, as we have been told by our master, 
S. Paul." 4 "Go home," said Vladimir. "Our fathers did 
not believe in your religion, nor receive it from the Pope." 

Next, on being informed of this, came some Jews (who 

1 Neander, vi. 70. 2 Karamsin, i. 259. 3 Ibid. i. 260. 

4 Compare the expressions respecting S. Paul in Karamsin, i. 399. For 
the sect itself, see Gibbon, c. 54. Their persecution by the Empress 
Theodora is one of the worst instances of Eastern intolerance. 

The Russian Church 287 

lived among the Khozars). 1 "We have heard say that the 
Mahometans and the Christians have tried to persuade thee to 
adopt their belief. The Christians believe in Him whom we 
have crucified. We believe in one God, the God of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob." " In what does your law consist ? " asked 
Vladimir. "Our law requires circumcision, prohibits pork 
and hare, and enjoins the observance of Saturday." 
" Where then is your country ? " " At Jerusalem." "What is 
Jerusalem ? " " God was wroth with our forefathers ; he dis- 
persed us for our sins throughout the world, and our country 
has fallen into the hands of Christians." "What," said 
Vladimir, "you wish to teach others you whom God has 
rejected and dispersed? If God had loved you and your law 
he would never have scattered you abroad ; do you wish, 
perhaps, that we should suffer the same ?" 

In each of these answers we detect the characteristic temper 
of the Russian, his love of drinking, his tenacity of ancestral 
customs, his belief in the Divine right of success. 

Another agency now appears on the scene. It is not a 
nameless barbarian, as before. It is, so the chronicler tells us, 
" a philosopher from Greece." The glory of Grecian culture 
still hung about its ancient seats, and the fittest harbinger of 
Christian truth, even in dealing with the savage Vladimir, was 
thought to be a Greek ; not a priest or a missionary, but a 

"We have heard," said he, "that the Mahometans have sent 
to lead you to adopt their belief. Their religion and their 
practices are abominations in the face of heaven and earth, and 
judgment will fall upon them, as of old on Sodom and 
Gomorrah. This is what they do who call Mahomet a 

This calls forth the first moral spark that we have seen in 
Vladimir's mind. He spat upon the ground and said, " This is 

"We have also heard," said the philosopher, "that 
messengers have come from Rome to teach you. Their belief 
differs somewhat from ours. They celebrate the mass with 
unleavened bread, therefore they have not the true religion." 
Such was the point on which the two greatest Churches of the 
world had been torn asunder, and into which Vladimir did not 
further inquire. He then took up the word himself and said : 

1 For the Jews amongst the Khozars, see Nestor (French trans, p. 118). 

288 The Russian Church 

" I have also had Jews here who said that the Germans and 
Greeks believe on Him whom we crucified." The philosopher 
assented. "Why was He crucified?" asked Vladimir. "If 
you will listen," replied the philosopher, " I will tell you all 
from the beginning." "With pleasure," replied Vladimir. 
And the philosopher then proceeded to relate all the Divine 
acts and deeds from the beginning of the world ; the whole 
course, we may say, of ecclesiastical history, coming to a 
characteristic close in the Seventh General Council. He then 
defined the true faith, and spoke of the future reward of the 
just and punishment of the impious, and at the same time 
showed to Vladimir a tablet on which was painted the scene of 
the Last Judgment. Then, showing him on the right l the 
just, who, filled with joy, were entering into Paradise, he made 
him remark on the left the sinners who were going into hell. 
Vladimir, as he looked at the picture, heaved a sigh and said, 
" Happy are those who are on the right ; woe to the sinners 
who are on the left." " If you wish," said the philosopher, " to 
enter with the just who are on the right, consent to be baptised." 
Vladimir reflected profoundly, and said, " I will wait yet a little 
while." For he wished first to t>e instructed about each 
religion. But he loaded the philosopher with presents and 
sent him away. 

Vladimir in the next year sent for the nobles and elders, and 
told them of the different interviews. " You know, O Prince," 
they said, " that no one talks evil of his religion, but that all, on 
the contrary, praise their own. If you wish to know the exact 
truth, you have wise men ; send them to examine the faith of 
each and the manner of their worship." 

We need not follow them throughout their journey. They 
reported that the Mussulmans prayed with their heads covered, 
and that their stench was insupportable ; and that the German 
and Roman churches had no ornaments nor beauty, though 
better than the Mussulman mosques. 

But the nobles insisted that the decision should not be made 
without knowing first what was the Greek religion; and 
accordingly the envoys proceeded to the city which they call 
Tzarogorod. In that barbarous name we recognise " the City 
of the Czar," or " King," the great Constantinople. 2 What it 

1 See the corresponding story of Bogoris and Methodius. (Robertson, 
ii. 344.) 

2 According to the fragment of the Byzantine Chronicles in Karamsin 
(i- 393)> t- ne y went also "to the Patriarch of Rome, who is called the 

The Russian Church 289 

was at that period, the splendour of its ceremonial, both of 
Church and State, even in the most minute detail, is known to 
us from the nearly contemporary account of the German 
embassy from Otho. Basil Porphyrogenitus l was on the 
throne with his brother Constantine ; and his words, in giving 
orders to the Patriarch to prepare for a magnificent reception 
of the strangers, indicate more than many treatises the import- 
ance he attached to the outward show of the ceremonial of the 
Church, as his grandfather had to the outward show of the 
ceremonial of the court. "Let them see," he said, "the glory 
of our God." The service was that of a high festival either of 
S. John Chrysostom, or of the Death of the Virgin. 

It was in the church magnificent even now in its fallen 
state, then all gorgeous with gold and mosaics of S. Sophia. 
Even had they been as far as Rome itself, they would have 
seen nothing equal to it. S. Peter's, as it now is, was far in the 
future. Cologne Cathedral was not yet born. The boast of 
Justinian was still the masterpiece of Christian architecture. 

The Russian envoys were placed in a convenient position. 
The incense smoked, the chants resounded, the Patriarch was 
in his most splendid vestments. One incident is preserved in 
a Byzantine annalist which the Russian chronicler has omitted. 
" The Russians were struck," he says, " by the multitude of 
lights and the chanting of the hymns ; but what most filled 
them with astonishment was the appearance of the deacons 
and sub-deacons issuing from the sanctuary, with torches in 
their hands ; " and, as we happen to know from an earlier 
source, 2 with white linen wings on their shoulders, at whose 
presence the people fell on their knees and cried, " Kyrie 
Eleison ! " The Russians took their guides by the hand, and 
said : " All that we have seen is awful and majestic, but this 
is supernatural. We have seen young men with wings, in 
dazzling robes, who, without touching the ground, chanted in 

Pope," and returned with the hope of persuading Vladimir to join the 
Latin Church. The ground on which the nobles desired to hear of the 
Greek religion was "that Constantinople was more illustrious than Rome."" 
Compare a (spurious) letter by Vladimir's physician. Ibid. 354. 

1 Karamsin, i. 392. Also called " Bulgaroctonus," from his savage con- 
quest of the Bulgarians. See, for his reign of fifty years, Finlay's Byzan- 
tine Empire, bk. ii. c. ii. 2. 

2 Quoted in Bunsen's " Christianity and Mankind," vii. 45. The same 
tendency to impose upon foreigners appears in the account of Luitprand's 
embassy, when he was received with the roaring of golden lions and the 
warbling of golden birds. (Gibbon, c. 53. ) 

290 The Russian Church 

the air, Holy ! holy ! holy ! and this is what has most sur- 
prised us." The guides replied (and the Byzantine historian 
repeats it without changing the tone of his narrative, even in 
the slightest degree) : " What ! do you not know that angels 
come down from heaven to mingle in our services ? " " You 
are right," said the simple-minded Russians ; " we want no 
further proof; send us home again." 

It is a striking instance of the effect produced on a barbarous 
people by the union of religious awe and outward magnificence, 
and the dexterity with which the Byzantine courtiers turned 
the credulity of the Russian envoys to account, is an example 
of the origin of many of the miracles of the middle ages ; not 
wholly fraud, nor wholly invention, but a union of the two ; a 
symbolical ceremony taken for a supernatural occurrence, and 
the mistake fostered, not by deliberate imposture, but by the 
difficulty of resisting the immense temptation to deception 
which such mistakes afforded. A like confusion supports to 
this day the supposed miracle of the Holy Fire at Jerusalem. 

As in many similar cases, the results far outlasted the sin or 
the weakness of the first beginning. " We knew not," said the 
envoys on their return, " whether we were not in heaven ; in 
truth, it would be impossible on earth to find such riches and 
magnificence. We cannot describe to you all that we have 
seen. We can only believe that there in all likelihood one is in 
the presence of God, and that the worship of other countries is 
there entirely eclipsed. We shall never forget so much grandeur. 
Whosoever has seen so sweet a spectacle will be pleased with 
nothing elsewhere. It is impossible for us to remain where 
we are." 

The rest of the story may be shortly told. With some few 
Eastern touches, it is not unlike the national conversions of the 
West. Vladimir, still in a state of hesitation, besieged the city 
of Cherson in the Crimea, and, like Clovis, vowed that he 
would be baptised if he succeeded. He then sent to demand 
from the Emperor Basil the hand of his sister Anne in marriage, 
under the promise of his own conversion, and under the threat 
of doing to Constantinople as he had done to Cherson. With 
some difficulty Anne was induced to sacrifice herself to the 
barbarian prince, in the hope of averting so great a danger and 
effecting so great a good. Her sister Theophano had already 
been established on the throne of the German Otho. She 
acquired a more lasting fame as the channel through which 
Christianity penetrated into Russia. 

The Russian Church 291 

He was baptised 1 accordingly at Cherson, and then issued 
orders for a great baptism of his people at Kieff. They also 
hesitated for a short time. But a like argument, combined 
with the threat of the Grand-Duke, convinced them also. The 
huge wooden idol Peroun was dragged over the hills at a 
horse's tail, mercilessly scourged by twelve mounted pursuers, 
and thrown into the Dnieper, where it was guided and pushed 
along the stream till it finally disappeared down the rapids in a 
spot long afterwards known as the Bay of Peroun. The whole 
people of Kieff were immersed in the same river, some sitting 
on the banks, some plunged in, others swimming, whilst 
the priests read the prayers. "It was a sight," says Nestor, 
" wonderfully curious and beautiful to see ; and when the whole 
people were baptised, each one returned to his own house." 
The spot was consecrated by the first Christian church, and 
Kieff, which had already, as we have seen from old traditions, 
been the Glastonbury, became henceforward the Canterbury, 
of the Russian Empire. 

Let me dwell on the points of this story which contain its 
singular significance as the foundation of the Russian Church. 

i. Observe the immense influence of Constantinople. The 
effect of the Roman ceremonial on the Teutonic barbarians was 
powerful ; but the effect of the Byzantine ritual on the Sclavonic 
barbarians must have been more powerful still. They returned 
believing that they had caught a glimpse of heaven itself. 
They clung to the recollections and to the support of that 
magnificent city, as children round the feet of a mother. In 
modern times and in political matters the connection between 
Russia and Constantinople has been tarnished by baser motives, 
by constant suspicions, by the degradation of the one and the 
ambition of the other. But in earlier times, and in ecclesiastical 
matters, the relations between the two were always preserved 
with filial fidelity; the more remarkable from the reversal of 
their respective positions in everything else. It is this which 
makes the Russian Church so truly Eastern. France, Spain, 
Germany, have all in diverse degrees ceased to represent the 
type of the Roman Church, to which they owe their first faith. 
But in the Cathedral at Moscow is still maintained, in essential 
points, the likeness of the worship which won the hearts of 
Vladimir's ambassadors in the Cathedral of S. Sophia ; and, 
although the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople has 

1 For the accompanying miracle, see Mouravieff, pp. 14, 354. 

292 The Russian Church 

been gradually relaxed in proportion to the increasing power of 
the Russian hierarchy and nation, yet the outward bond between 
the two Churches has never been broken. The Metropolitans 
of Russia were for five centuries either Byzantines or closely 
allied to Byzantium. Every successive change in their 
condition since has been confirmed by the Church of Con- 
stantinople. The transference of the see from Kieff to Moscow, 
the elevation of the Primacy into a Patriarchate, and finally the 
transformation of the Patriarchate into a Synod, have all been 
recognised by the Eastern Patriarchs themselves ; and, whatever 
inward jealousy they may have of their powerful neighbour, 
there is no ground for the popular Western notion that the 
Church of Russia is in a stage of antagonism to the other 
Churches of the East. Whatever its errors, or its crimes, or its 
excellences, it cannot be divided from the general fortunes of 
Oriental Christendom. The union of Vladimir with Anne is 
still a living power. 

2. I have elsewhere described the inheritance -of Eastern 
doctrine and practice which Russia thus received and deve- 
loped in common with the other Oriental Churches. But two 
or three points stand out conspicuously in the history of the 
conversion. One such characteristic of the Eastern Church 
generally, but eminently characteristic of Russian ecclesiastical 
history, is the influence exercised over this its first beginnings 
by the effect of the sacred pictures on the mind of the Grand- 
Duke. That picture of the Last Judgment inaugurated, so to 
speak, the influence of its innumerable successors of the same or 
of other sacred subjects, down to the present day. No vener- 
ation of relics or images in the West can convey any adequate 
notion of the veneration for pictures in Russia. It is the main 
support and stay of their religious faith and practice ; it is like 
the rigid observance of Sunday to a Scotchman, or the Auto da 
F6 to an ancient Spaniard, or fasting to a Copt, or singing of 
hymns to Methodists. Everywhere, in public and in private, 
the sacred picture is the consecrating element. In the corner 
of every room, at the comer of every street, over gateways, in 
offices, in steamers, in stations, in taverns, is the picture hung, 
with the lamp burning before it. In domestic life it plays the 
part of the family bible, of the wedding gift, of the birthday 
present, of the ancestral portrait. In the national life, it is the 
watchword, the flag, which has supported the courage of 
generals and roused the patriotism of troops. It has gone 
forth to meet the Tartars, or the Poles, or the French. It has 

The Russian Church 293 

thus been carried by Demetrius, by Peter, by Suwaroff, by 
Kutusoff. A taste, a passion for pictures, not as works of 
art, but as emblems, as lessons, as instructions, is thus en- 
gendered and multiplied in common life beyond all example 
elsewhere. The symbolical representation of sacred truth 
extends even to the natural world. A dove or pigeon is con- 
sidered as a living picture ("obraz") of the Holy Spirit, and 
therefore no Russian peasant will eat one. Even a Syrian 
traveller from the distant East, in the seventeenth century, 
observed what no less strikes an English traveller from the 
West in the nineteenth century, how (to use his own 

"The Muscovites are vastly attached to the love of pictures, 
neither regarding the beauty of the painting nor the skill of the 
painter, for with them a beautiful and an ugly painting are all one, 
and they honour and bow to them perpetually, though the figure 
be only a daub of children, or a sketch upon a leaf of paper ; so 
that, of a whole army, there is not a single man but carries in his 
knapsack a gaudy picture within a simple cover, with which he 
never parts, and wherever he halts he sets it up on a piece of wood 
and worships it." 1 

And when from common life we pass to the church, still 
the same peculiarity presents itself. Frequently the groups of 
passers-by may be seen looking at the elaborate represent- 
ations of this or that Scriptural event or legendary scene, or a 
New Testament parable or an Old Testament miracle. One 
better informed than the rest will explain it to his companions, 
and these pictorial communications are probably the chief 
sources of religious instruction imparted to the mass of the 
Russian peasantry. Or enter within a church, at least any 
church such as those at Moscow, which best represent the 
national feeling. There the veneration has reached a pitch 
which gives an aspect to the whole building as unlike any 
European church as the widest difference of European 
churches can separate each from each. From top to bottom, 
from side to side, walls and roof and screen and columns are a 
mass of gilded pictures ; not one of any artistic value, not one 
put in for the sake of show or effect, but all cast in the same 
ancient mould, or overcast with the same venerable hue ; and 
each one, from the smallest figure in the smallest compartment 
to the gigantic faces which look down with their large open 

1 Travels of Macarius, ii. 50. 

294 The Russian Church 

eyes from the arched vaults above, performing its own part, 
and bearing a relation to the whole. One only other style of 
sacred architecture is recalled by this strange sight. It is as if 
four columns (for there are but four in an Orthodox Eastern 
church) had been transplanted from the mighty forest of pillars 
in the great temple of Egyptian Thebes. Like those pillars, 
though on a humbler scale, these four columns rise up, and 
round and round they are painted, with ever recurring pairs, as 
there of Egyptian gods, so here of Christian martyrs. And as 
the walls there are hung from head to foot with battle-pieces 
or sacred processions, so here with Apostles, Prophets, 
Patriarchs, parables, history, legend. The Seven Councils of 
the Church follow in exact and uniform order, closing on the 
western end with a huge representation of the Last Judgment, 
such as converted Vladimir. In one sense the resemblance 
to Egypt is purely accidental. But in another sense it is 
almost inevitable. Egypt and Russia are the only two great 
nations in which pictures or pictorial emblems have entered so 
deeply into the national life and religious instruction of the 
people. Hieroglyphics and pictures constituted more than 
half the learning of those grown-up children of the ancient 
world; they still constitute more than half the education of 
these grown-up children of the modern world. It may be 
questioned whether an uninstructed Englishman or an unin- 
structed Russian would be most inclined to look upon the 
other as an absolute Pagan, the one for never being able to 
say his prayers without pictures, the other for never saying his 
prayers with them. And when we remember that some of 
these pictures have, besides their interest as the emblems of 
truth to a barbarian and child-like people, acquired the his- 
torical associations involved in the part they have taken in 
great national events, it is not surprising that the combination 
of religious and patriotic feelings in Russia should have raised 
their veneration to a pitch by us almost inconceivable. The 
history of a single picture becomes almost the history of the 
nation. Brought by Vladimir from Cherson, believed to have 
been painted by Constantine the Great, used on every great 
occasion of national thanksgiving and deliverance, deposited in 
the most sacred of Russian cathedrals, the picture, as it is 
called, of " Our Lady of Vladimir " represents exactly the idea 
of an ancient palladium ; whilst the fact that it is not a graven 
statue vindicates it in their eyes from all likeness to a Pagan 
idol. It is a sentiment which, according to Western views, 

The Russian Church 295 

cannot be imitated, but which, if only in order to be avoided, 
must be understood and explained. 

3. Another prominent feature of the conversion is the fact 
that alone of all the European nations (unless Spain and 
Hungary are counted exceptions) Russia was Christianised 
without the agency of missionaries, and chiefly by the direct 
example, influence, or command (whichever we choose to call 
it) of its Prince. There is Martin the Apostle of Gaul, and 
Augustine of England, and Boniface of Germany ; but there is 
no Apostle of Russia except Vladimir, who bears the same 
title as that of Constantine, " Isapostolos ; " " Vladimir equal 
to an Apostle" 

It is a remarkable example of the religious aspect of the 
temporal sovereign, which, though cherished everywhere in the 
Eastern Churches, has, as we shall hereafter see, always 
exercised a more powerful influence in Russia, from the 
peculiarly docile and yielding character of the Sclavonic race. 
"Our country is large and fertile, but we have no order 
amongst us. Come amongst us to reign and to rule over us." * 
Such was the address of the Russians to the Norman chief 
Ruric, their first sovereign. And in like manner the same 
argument of higher authority carried with it their conversion. 
"If the Greek religion had not been good," said the nobles 
to Vladimir, "it would not have been adopted by your 
grandmother Olga, wisest of mortals." And again : " If 
baptism were not good," said the people of Kieff, "it would 
not have been adopted by our princes and nobles." As far 
as the clergy were concerned, they were mere passive instru- 
ments in the hands of the prince and the people. There were 
no tithes, with one single exception which proves the rule. 
They lived, as they have lived ever since, on the free offerings 
of their flocks. The Russian establishment is a combination, 
difficult to square with our preconceived English notions, of 
the strictest form of a State religion with the widest application 
of the voluntary principle. I shall not here dwell further on 
this aspect of the Russian religion. We shall have occasion 
to return to it hereafter, and on one side of it, the most 
hopeful of all the peculiarities of the Eastern Church, I have 
dwelt before; namely, the vast weight and responsibility 
thrown into the hands of its laymen by the principles of the 
Church itself. 

1 Haxthausen, iii. 34. 


The Russian Church 

4. But there is another point connected with this, which 
helps us to a feature of the conversion not distinctly brought 
out in the narrative of Nestor. It appears from that narrative, 
and has been often observed, that, as compared with the 
Western nations, the spread of the Christian religion was more 
rapid and more easy than in any other country. No violent 
collision, no martyrdom, either of Christian or Pagan, marked 
the progress of the new religion. The docile character of the 
people, the outward and ceremonial nature of that form of 
Christianity which they received, the slight hold of their old 
mythology, may all account for this. But it would be wrong 
to omit one element in the transaction, on which much stress 
is laid by later Russian historians, 1 and which undoubtedly 
was a matter of great moment in the mode of exhibiting 
Christianity to the nation. In every country converted by the 
Latin Church the Scriptures and the Liturgy had been intro- 
duced, not in the vernacular language of the original or 
conquered population, but in the language of the government 
or missionaries, the Latin language of the old Empire and 
new Church of Rome. Our own sense and experience are 
sufficient to tell us what a formidable~obstacle must have 
been created by this single cause to the mutual and general 
understanding of the new faith; what barriers between the 
conquerors and conquered, between the educated and the 
vulgar, above all, between the clergy and the laity. The ill 
effects of the tardy translation of our own Bible and Prayer- 
book into Irish amply indicate the probable results. In the 
Eastern Church, on the other hand, a contrary method was 
everywhere followed. The same principle which had led 
Jerome, in his cell at Bethlehem, to translate the Bible into 
what was then the one known language of the West, was 
adopted by the Oriental Church with regard to all the nations 
that came within its sphere. Hence, in the remote East, 
sprang up the Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, and Ethiopic versions ; 
hence, in the only attempt (which I have already described) 
made by the Eastern Church on the Western barbarians, 
Ulfilas immortalised himself by producing the only widespread 
translation of the Scriptures which existed in any Western 
language till the times of Wycliffe. In like manner, at the 
approach of the Greek Church to the Sclavonic nations on the 

1 For the whole of this view of the effect of the Sclavonic translation, see 
Oustralieff's History of Russia, c. i. 5 (as communicated to me in a MS. 
translation by the Rev. R. W. Blackmore). 

The Russian Church 297 

shores of the Danube, the first labour of the missionaries, 
Cyril (or Constantine) and Methodius, was to invent an 
alphabet for the yet unwritten language of the Sclavonic tribes, 
in order at once to render into this language the whole of the 
New Testament, except the Apocalypse, and the whole of 
the Psalter in the Old. Bulgaria, by its position on the frontiers 
of the Greek and Latin Churches, was a constant source of 
discord between them. On this occasion the use of the 
version already sanctioned by Constantinople was also referred 
to Rome, and was allowed on grounds which in fact justify 
the use of vernacular translations everywhere; though it was 
afterwards condemned by the same authority, with that re- 
markable inconsistency and fluctuation which have always 
distinguished the policy of the Papal chair on the subject of 
the circulation of the Bible. It was sanctioned on the ground 
that the Psalmist says, " Let everything that hath breath praise 
the Lord," that is, in the different languages. It was con- 
demned on the ground that Methodius was a heretic, by a 
strange confusion between him and his Arian predecessor, 
Ulfilas. 1 

The translation of Cyril had been in existence for a century 
before the conversion of Vladimir, and was thus at once ready 
for use by the Greek Bishops and clergy who accompanied the 
Princess Anne to Kieff. Of these hardly anything is known. 
But Cyril and Methodius, if any one, must be considered by 
anticipation as the first Christian teachers of Russia : their 
rude alphabet first instructed the Russian nation in letters, and 
by its quaint Greek characters still testifies in every Russian 
book, and on every Russian house or shop, the Greek source 
of the religion and literature of the Empire. The Russian 
language was thus elevated to a dignity unknown at that time 
to any of the barbarous dialects of Western Europe ; and such 
as was only imparted at a much later period, by Dante to 
the Itairan, and by Luther's translation of the Bible to 
the German, language. The ancient Sclavonic speech, thus 
attaining almost at a single bound to the perfection elsewhere 
reached only by slow degrees and laborious efforts, has now in 
turn fallen behind the growth of the modern language of 
Russia ; and the same difficulty has arisen, or is fast arising, 
which besets the use of the ancient phraseology of the sacred 
books of all even the most vernacular languages. But the 

1 For the authorities, see Gieseler, 3rd period, 2nd sec. 38. 

L 2 


The Russian Church 

work of Cyril and Methodius gave at once a national character 
to the Scriptures and Liturgy, and a religious character to 
the literature and language of Russia, which have never been 
effaced; and, in the first instance, must have kept alive, 
before the minds of the people and clergy, both a sense of 
their common religious interest, and a knowledge of the 
leading truths of Christianity, such as could hardly have been 
possessed by the contemporary Churches and nations of the 

To some such cause as this, combined with the natural 
vigour of the people, must be ascribed the fact that the 
Christianity of Russia, introduced by these purely external and 
formal influences, early exhibited a practical strength hardly to 
be recognised in the other Churches of the East, and sometimes 
equal even to the energetic zeal of Western Christendom. 

Of this early period there are two Princes whom the Russian 
Church has dignified with the name of saint. The first, 
Vladimir, its founder in the tenth century ; the second, Alex- 
ander of the Neva, so called from the victory in which he 
repulsed the Swedes on the banks of that river in the thirteenth 
century. The first has found his rest at Kieff; the other sleeps 
in a magnificent shrine in the capital which centuries afterwards 
rose beside his own Neva. Each of them, no doubt, has his 
claims to veneration. The savage character of Vladimir seems 
to have been tamed and softened by his conversion. Alexander 
seems to have united in an eminent degree the virtues of the 
soldier and the pacificator. But, as we often observe in the 
history both of the Western and Eastern Churches, the title of 
" saint " has not been the surest index of true Christian excel- 
lence ; and, on the whole, there are two other Princes of this 
age whose memory has a better savour than that of the two 
royal saints just named. One is the legislator Jaroslaff, who 
introduced into Russia the Byzantine system of Canon Law, 
and the first beginnings of Christian education. The other is 
Vladimir the Second, or as he is usually called, probably from 
the Byzantine Emperor of the same surname, Vladimir Mono- 
machus, 1 whose date maybe fixed in our minds by his marriage 
with Gytha, 2 daughter of our own Harold. The details of his 
life can only be understood through the intricate and obscure 
events of his time. But his general character may be suffici- 
ently gathered from his own words, in the dying injunctions left 

1 Mouravieff, p. 20. 2 Karamsin, ii. 211. 

The Russian Church 299 

to his sons. They show that, underneath the load of Byzantine 
ceremonial and the roughness of Russian barbarism, there lived 
a spark of true manly goodness ; and that he was not unworthy 
of the model of a just and religious ruler in the loist Psalm, 
which was sent to him by the Russian Primate, 1 with an exhort- 
ation to learn it by heart, to meditate upon it, and to fashion 
his government accordingly. His love of the Psalter, his rapid 
travelling, the turn for foreign languages, the union of fierceness 
and devotion, all go to make up a genuine portraiture of a 
Russian Christian of early days : 

" O my children, praise God and love men. For it is not fasting, 
nor solitude, nor monastic life, that will procure you eternal life, but 
only doing good. Forget not the poor, nourish them ; remember 
that riches come from God, and are given you only for a short time. 
Do not bury your wealth in the ground ; this is against the precepts 
of Christianity. Be fathers to orphans. Be judges in the cause of 
widows, and do not let the powerful oppress the weak. Put to death 
neither innocent nor guilty, for nothing is so sacred as the life and 
the soul of a Christian. Never take the name of God in vain ; and 
never break the oath you have made in kissing the crucifix. My 
brethren said to me, ' Help us to drive out the sons of Rostislaf, or 
else give up our alliance.' But I said, * I cannot forget that I have 
kissed the cross.' I opened then the book of Psalms, and read 
there with deep emotion : 'Why art thou so vexed, O my soul, 
and why art thou so disquieted within me? Put thy trust in God. 
I will confess my faults, and he is gracious.' 

" Be not envious at the triumph of the wicked and the success of 
treachery. Fear the lot of the impious. Do not desert the sick : 
do not let the sight of dead corpses terrify you, for we must all die. 
Receive with joy the blessing of the clergy : do not keep yourself 
aloof from them : do them good, that they may pray to God for you. 
Drive out of your heart all suggestions of pride, and remember that 
we are all perishable to-day full of hope, to-morrow in the coffin. 
Abhor lying, drunkenness, and debauchery. Love your wives, but 
do not suffer them to have any power over you. Endeavour con- 
stantly to "obtain knowledge. Without having quitted his palace, 
my father spoke five languages; a thing which wins for us the 
admiration of foreigners. 

"In war be vigilant; be an example to your boyards. Never 
retire to rest until you have posted your guards. Never take off 
your arms while you are within reach of the enemy. And, to avoid 
being surprised, always be early on horseback. When you are on 
horseback say your prayers, or at least the shortest and the best of 
all, ' Lord, have mercy upon us.' 

"When you travel through your provinces, do not allow your 

1 Palmer's Orthodox Communion, p. 95. 

3OO The Russian Church 

attendants to do the least injury to the inhabitants. Entertain 
always at your own expense the master of the house in which you 
take up your abode. 

" If you find yourself affected by any ailment, make three prostra- 
tions to the ground before the Lord ; and never let the sun find you 
in bed. At the dawn of day, my father, and the virtuous men by 
whom he was surrounded, did thus : they glorified the Lord, and 
cried, in the joy of their hearts, 'Vouchsafe, O my God, to enlighten 
me with thy divine light.' They then seated themselves to deliber- 
ate, or to administer justice to the people, or they went to the 
chase ; and in the middle of the day they slept ; which God permits 
to man as well as to beasts and birds. 

"For my part, I accustomed myself to do everything that I 
might have ordered my servants to do. Night and day, summer 
and winter, I was perpetually moving about. I wished to see every- 
thing with my own eyes. Never did I abandon the poor or the 
widow to the oppressions of the powerful. I made it my duty to 
inspect the churches and the sacred ceremonies of religion, as well 
as the management of my property, my stables, and the vultures 
and hawks of my hunting establishment. 

" I have made eighty-three campaigns and many expeditions. I 
concluded nineteen treaties with the Polostzy [wandering hordes 
between the Kouban and the Danube ancestors of the Noga'is]. I 
took captive one hundred of their princes, whom I set free again ; 
and I put two hundred of them to death, by throwing them into 

"No one has ever travelled more rapidly than I have done. 
Setting out in the morning from Tchernigof, I have arrived at Kieff 
before the hour of vespers. 

" In my youth, what falls from my horse did I not experience ! 
wounding my feet and my hands, and breaking my head against 
trees. But the Lord watched over me. 

'* In hunting amidst the thickest forests, how many times have I 
myself caught wild horses and bound them together ! How many 
times have I been thrown down by buffaloes, wounded by the 
antlers of stags, and trodden under the feet of elks ! A furious wild 
boar rent my sword from my baldrick : my saddle was torn to 
pieces by a bear ; this terrible beast rushed upon my courser, whom 
he threw down upon me. But the Lord protected me. 

" O my children, fear neither death nor wild beasts. Trust in 
Providence : it far surpasses all human precautions." l 

1 Karamsin, ii. 202. 

The Russian Church 301 


A D. 

400. Mission of Ulfilas to the Goths. 


863. Mission of Cyril and Methodius to Bulgaria, and Translation of the 

Bible into Sclavonic. 

879. Oskold and Dir martyred as Christians by Oleg. 

955. Baptism of Olga. 

988. Baptism of Vladimir at Kherson, and Conversion of Russia at Kieff. 

1010. Foundation of the Pechersky Monastery at Kieff. 

1015. Martyrdom of Boris and Glieb. 

1017. Accession of Jaroslaff I. 

1054. Foundation of the Church of S. Sophia at Novgorod. 

1108. Chronicles of Nestor. 

1113. Accession of Vladimir Monomachus. 

1246. Alexander Nevsky. 



AMONGST the special authorities for this period may be 
named : 

1. "The Present State of Russia." By Samuel Collins, M.D. 1671. 

2. "Russia at the Close of the Sixteenth Century." (Edited by Mr. 

Bond for the Hakluyt Society.) 1856. 
It contains : 

(a) "A Treatise on the Russian Commonwealth." By Dr. Giles 

Fletcher. 1588. 

(b) "The Travels of Sir Jerome Horsey." 1591. 

We have reached the period which in Russia most nearly 
corresponds to the Middle Ages of Europe. But, as might 
be expected from the much later birth of the Russian Church 
and Empire, this period both begins and ends much later 
than the corresponding epoch in the West. The consolidation 
of the Teutonic tribes must be carried back to Charlemagne 
in the ninth century; whereas the consolidation of the Scla- 
vonic tribes, by the creation of the central capital of Moscow, 
dates from the beginning of the fourteenth century. The 
European middle age ends with the beginning of the sixteenth 
century. The Russian middle age continues at least till the 
middle of the seventeenth century, and in some sense even 
till the opening of the eighteenth. 

These synchronisms, or anachronisms, as we might almost 
rather call them, are necessary to bear in mind as illustrations 
of the relative positions of Eastern and Western Christendom. 
It is the period between these limits which I now propose 
shortly to describe. 

Of this whole period, the local scene and the outward 
symbol, still surviving the events which gave it birth, is 
"Moscow." That marvellous city is the very personification 
of the ecclesiastical history of Russia. It is indeed a per- 
sonification of it even in the literal sense. " Our holy mother, 
Moscow," is the peasant's endearing name for the city; nay, 
even for the road which leads to it, "Our dear mother, the 
great road from Vladimir to Moscow." 1 Hallowed by no 
Apostolic legends, not even by any Byzantine missions; 

1 Haxthausen, iii. 151. 

Russian Church in Middle Ages 303 

cleared out of the forests which down to the fourteenth 
century overhung, and still leave their names on, the banks 
of the Moskwa; with no other attractions than its central 
situation in the heart of the Russian Empire, it has yet 
acquired a hold over the religious mind of a larger part of 
i Christendom than is probably exercised by any other city 
; except Jerusalem and Rome. Look at its forest of towers 
| and domes, springing like gaudy flowers or weeds blue, 
| red, green, silver, golden from the wide field of green roofs, 
j and groves, and gardens. It is a very Russian Rome, 1 no 
doubt; but still, like it, the city of innumerable churches, of 
everlasting bells, of endless processions, of palace and church 
combined, of tombs and thrones, and relics and treasures, 
and invasions and deliverances, as far back as its history 
extends. Look further at the concentration of all this in 
the Kremlin. In that fortress, surrounded by its crusted 
towers and battlemented walls, are united all the elements 
of the ancient religious life of Russia. Side by side stand 
the three cathedrals of the marriages, coronations, and 
funerals of the Czars. Hard by are the two convents, half 
palatial, half episcopal. Overhanging all is the double, 
triple palace of Czar and Patriarch. Within that palace is 
a labyrinth of fourteen chapels, multiplied by sovereign after 
sovereign, till the palace is more like the dwelling-place of 
the Pope than of the Emperor; whilst, still true to the well- 
known saying which I have quoted before, the Tartar-like 
building in which these chapels are imbedded, itself crabbed, 
ribbed, low-browed, painted within and without in the old 
barbaric grotesqueness of mediaeval Russia, is encased with 
the external magnificence of modern civilisation and European 

Within these walls, for the most part, lies the scene of that 
portion of history on which we now enter, beginning with 
the foundation of Moscow, and terminating with the accession 
of the Romanoff dynasty. The first coincides in time with 
what in Europe may be called the beginning of the second 
portion of the middle ages, after the close of the great struggle 
between the Popes and Emperors. The second coincides with 
the subsidence of the struggles of the European Reformation 
in the Peace of Westphalia. 

1 Moscow, after the fall of Constantinople, was regarded by the Eastern 
Church as "a new Rome," in the sense of "a new Constantinople.'* 
"The new Rome which is Moscow." Macarius's Travels, i. 325, ii. 57. 

304 The Russian Church 

In the gradual consolidation of the Church of Russia, 
which took place during this period, there concurred three 
leading institutions and two leading events. These corre- 
spond to analogous institutions and events in mediasval 
Europe, and thus convey similar instruction, but varied by 
the peculiar differences of East and West. 

I. Leaving the continuous narrative to be read in the 
characteristic and forcible history of Andrew Mouravieff, 1 I 
will confine myself to the salient points. 

First is the Czar. In the West, as well as in the East, the 
framework of all religious and civil institutions was moulded 
on the idea of a Holy Roman Empire succeeding to the 
Pagan Roman Empire of former times. But in the West this 
institution has signally failed, as in the East it has signally 
succeeded. Charlemagne was a much greater man than any 
of the Russian potentates before the time of Peter. His 
coronation by Leo was a much more striking coronation than 
any that has fallen to the lot even of the greatest Russian 
Emperors. The theory of his Empire was defended by Dante 
with far more genius and zeal than ever was the theory of the 
White Czar by any poet or philosopher of Russia. But, 
nevertheless, the Holy Roman Empire 'has faded away, whilst 
"the new Caesar of the Empire of Orthodoxy" 2 still stands. 
In part this difference is owing to the fundamental diversity 
of the Eastern and Western characters. In part, however, 
the institution was fostered by the peculiar circumstances of 
the Russian history, which gave to it importance in the Russian 
Church and Empire beyond what it acquired in other regions 
of the East. The very slowness of its growth indicates the 
depth of its roots in the national character and history. The 
transformation of the Grand-Princes of Kieff, Vladimir, and 
Novgorod into the Czar of Muscovy, and of the Czar of 
Muscovy into the Emperor of all the Russias, was not the 
work of a day or a century ; it was the necessity of the long- 
sustained wars with Tartars, Poles, and Swedes; it was the 
craving for union amongst the several Princes; it was the 
inheritance of the ceremonial of the Byzantine Empire, 
through the intermarriage of Ivan III. with the daughter 
of the last Palseologus ; it was the earnest desire for peace 
under one head, after the long wars of the Pretenders; it 

1 I must also express my personal obligations to the Author. 

2 So the Czar Alexis was formerly addressed by the German Emperor. 
(Travels of Macarius, 770.) 

in the Middle Ages 305 

was the homogeneousness of the vast Empire, uniting itself 
under one common ruler. The political position of the Czar 
or Emperor is not within our province, but his religious or 
ecclesiastical position transpires through the whole history of 
his Church. He is the father of the whole patriarchal com- 
munity. The veneration for him was in the middle ages 
almost, it is said, as if he were Christ 1 Himself. The line 
of Grecian Emperors, so it was said even by Orientals, had 
been stained with heresy and iconoclasm : never the line of 
the Orthodox Czars of Muscovy. 2 " He who blasphemes his 
Maker meets with forgiveness amongst men, but he who 
reviles the Emperor is sure to lose his head." 3 "God and 
the Prince will it, God and the Prince know it," 4 were the 
two arguments, moral and intellectual, against which there 
was no appeal. "So live your Imperial Majesty, here is my 
head ; " "I have seen the laughing eyes of the Czar : " these 
were the usual expressions of loyalty. 5 He was the keeper 
of the keys and the body-servant of God. 6 His coronation, 
even at the present time, is not a mere ceremony, but a 
historical event and solemn consecration. It is preceded by 
fasting and seclusion, and takes place in the most sacred 
church in Russia; the Emperor, not as in the corresponding 
forms of European investiture a passive recipient, but himself 
the principal figure in the whole scene ; himself reciting aloud 
the confession of the Orthodox faith; himself alone on his 
knees, amidst the assembled multitude, offering up the prayer 
of intercession for the Empire ; himself placing his own crown 
with his own hands on his own head ; himself entering through 
the sacred doors of the innermost sanctuary, and taking from 
the altar the elements of the bread and wine, of which then 
and there, in virtue of his consecration, he communicates with 
bishops, priests, and deacons. In every considerable church 
is placed a throne in front of the altar, as if in constant 
expectation of the sudden apparition of the Sovereign. In 
every meeting, council, or college, is placed the sacred tri- 
angular " mirror," " the mirror of conscience," as it is called, 
which represents the Imperial presence, and solemnises, as if 
by an actual consecration, the business to be transacted. 

In the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, within the 
Kremlin, lie, each in his place, their coffins ranged around 

1 Macarius, i. 401. 2 Ibid. ii. 45. 

3 Ibid. ii. 73. 4 Strahl, ii. 65 

6 Tracts on Muscovite Religion, 37. 6 Ibid. 38. 

The Russian Church 

the wall, the long succession of Czars, from the founder of 
Moscow to the predecessor of the founder of Petersburg. 
Round the walls, above each coffin, are the figures painted 
in long white robes, each with a glory round his head, not 
the glory of saintly canonisation, 1 but of that Imperial 
canonisation of which I have just spoken. Twice a year a 
funeral service is performed for the sins of all of them. Of 
all those who there lie buried, under "that burden of sins," 
so the service solemnly expresses it, "voluntary or in- 
voluntary, known to themselves or unknown," none more 
strangely and significantly indicates the mixed character of 
the Russian Czar, or the hold which the office had acquired 
on the people, than he who, as the first crowned and anointed 
Czar of Muscovy, lies next the altar, in the most sacred place, 
Ivan or John IV., surnamed " the Terrible." 

Without dwelling on the details of his life, his history will 
serve the purpose of presenting to us some peculiarities of 
this aspect of the Russian Church. 

His career has a dramatic interest of its own, unlike that 
of most of the great tyrants of the world. From a youth of 
barbarous profligacy he was reclaimed suddenly, and, as it 
would seem, entirely, by the joint efforts of his wife Anastasia, 
of the monk Sylvester, and of the noble Adasheff. For 
thirteen years under their influence he led not only a pure 
and good life, but a career of brilliant success long unknown 
in the Russian annals. "It was as if a cloud which had 
before concealed Russia from the eyes of Europe was suddenly 
drawn asunder, and revealed to them at the moment of their 
greatest need, against the aggressive power of the Ottoman 
Empire, a young Christian hero at the head of a great empire, 
to be the vanguard and support of Christendom." 2 But this 
was only transient. At the end of thirteen years these good 
influences were partly withdrawn and partly crushed. He 
returned once more to far worse than his youthful vices; 
insanity blended itself with furious passion, and, although 
sparks of religion still remained, at times bursting forth into 
fervent devotion, although noble schemes of civilisation 
hovered before his mind always, and kept his name in 
sight before the Western world, yet, if we may believe 
half the crimes laid to his charge, he stands unrivalled, 

1 Although it was taken for such by the Syrian travellers. Macarius, 
ii. 44. 

2 Palmer's Orthodox Communion, p. 48. 

in the Middle Ages 307 

at least amongst Christian sovereigns, in his pre-eminence of 

He is the first Russian Prince who comes into direct contact 
with the West. 1 He corresponded with and courted our own 
Elizabeth. 2 It is interesting to reflect that probably he was 
the first great political personage who claimed and who 
received the promise of the right of asylum in England, in 
case of a revolution in his own country ; and also that to this 
communication we owe the first distinct description of Russian 
life and religion by an Englishman, in the Journal of Sir 
Jerome Horsey, employed as messenger between Ivan and 
Elizabeth. There is something almost Shakspearian in the 
delineation which Horsey gives of the last time he saw the 
tremendous Emperor: 

"God would not leave this cruelty and barbarism unpunished. 
Not long after, he, the Emperor, fell out in rage with his eldest 
son Charrowich [the Czarovitch] Ivan for having some commiser- 
ation of these distressed poor Christians ; and but for commanding 
an officer to give a gentleman a warrant for 5 or 6 post-horses, sent 
in his affairs, without the king's leave, and some other jealousy of 
greatness and too good opinion of the people as he thought, strake 
him in his fury a box on the ear or thrust at him with his piked staff ; 
who took it so tenderly, fell into a burning fever, and died within 
three days after. Whereat the Emperor tore his hair and beard 
like a mad man, lamenting and mourning for the loss of his son. 
(But the kingdom had the greatest loss, the hope of their comfort, a 
wise, mild, and most worthy prince, of heroical condition, of comely 
presence, twenty-three years of age, beloved and lamented of all 
men : was buried in Michaela Sweat [S. Michael] Archangel church^ 
with jewels, precious stones, and apparel, put into his tomb with his 
corpse, worth 50 thousand pounds, watched by twelve citizens every 
night by change, dedicated unto his saint John and Michael Arch- 
angel, to keep both body and treasure.) 3 

* * ***** 

" The old Emperor was carried every day in his chair into his 
treasury." One day he beckoned me to follow. I stood among the 
rest venturously, and heard him call for some precious stones and 
jewels. Told the Prince and nobles present before and about him 
the vertue of such and such, which I observed, and do pray I may 
a little digrtss to declare for my own memory's sake. 

1 It is not improbable that from him are drawn Hooker's almost con- 
temporaneous descriptions of a prosperous but wicked potentate, delighting 
in the awe which he inspires, and in the thought that "the enormity of his 
crimes is above all reach of law." Sermon on Pride (vol. iii. pt. ii. pp. 

753, 754, 787). 
8 Collins, 47. 3 Travels of Horsey, 178, 199. 

The Russian Church 

" * The load-stone,' he said, ' you all know hath great and hidden 
vertue, without which the seas that compass the world are not 
navigable, nor the bounds nor circle of the earth cannot be known. 
Mahomet, the Persian's Prophet, his tomb of steel hangs in "their 
Rapetta at Darbent most miraculously.' 

"Caused the waiters to bring a chain of needles touched by this 
load-stone, hanged all one by the other. * This fair coral and this 
fair turcas you see ; take in your hand ; of his nature are orient 
colours ; put them on my hand and arm. I am poisoned with dis- 
ease ; you see they show their vertue by the change of their pure 
colour into pale : declares my death. Reach out my staff royal ; an 
unicorn's horn garnished with very fair diamonds, rubies, sapphires, 
emeralds and other precious stones that are rich in value ; cost 70 
thousand marks sterling of David Gower, from the fowlkers of 
Ousborghe. 1 Seek out for some spiders.' 

" Caused his physician, Johannes Lloff, to scrape a circle thereof 
upon the table ; put within it one spider and so one other and died, 
and some other without that ran alive apace from it. * It is too 
late, it will not preserve me. Behold these precious stones. This 
diamond is the orient's richest and most precious of all other. I 
never affected it ; it restrains fury and luxury, [gives ?] abstinence 
and chastity ; the least parcel of it in powder will poison a horse 
given to drink, much more a man.' Points at the ruby. ' O ! this 
is most comfortable to the heart, brain, vigour and memory of man, 
clarifies congealed and corrupt blood.' Then at the emerald. * The 
nature of the rainbow ; this precious stone is an enemy to unclean- 
ness. The sapphire I greatly delight in ; it preserves and increaseth 
courage, joys the heart, pleasing to all the vital senses, precious and 
very sovereign for the eyes, clears the sight, takes away blood-shot, 
and strengthens the muscles and strings thereof.' Then takes the 
onyx in hand. 'All these are God's wonderful gifts, secrets in 
nature, and yet reveals them to man's use and contemplation, as 
friends to grace and virtue and enemies to vice. I faint, carry me 
away till another time.' 

" In the afternoon peruseth over his will, and yet thinks not to 
die : he hath been bewitched in that place, and often times un- 
witched again ; but now the devil fails. Commands the master 
of his apotheke and physician to prepare and attend for his solace 
and bathing ; looks for the goodness of the sign ; sends his 
favourite to his witches again to know their calculations. He 
comes and tells them the Emperor will bury or burn them all quick 
for their false illusions and lies. The day is come ; he is at heart 
whole as ever he was. ' Sir, be not so wrathful. You know the day 
is come and ends with the setting of the sun.' He hastes him to the 
Emperor : made great preparation for the bath. About the third 
hour of the day the Emperor went into it, solaced himself and made 
merry with pleasant songs as he useth to do : came out about the 

1 Qu. " the Fuggers [the great merchant family] of Augsburg." 

in the Middle Ages 309 

seventh hour well refreshed ; brought forth ; sets him down upon 
his bed ; calls Rodovone Bcerken, a gentleman whom he favoured, 
to bring the chess-board. He sets his men ; all saving the king, 
which by no means he could not make stand in his place with the 
rest upon the plain board ; his chief favourite and Boris Feclorowich 
Goddorove and others about him. The Emperor in his loose gown, 
shirt and linen hose, faints and falls backward. Great outcry and 
stir ; one sent for aqua vitas, another to the apotheke for ' marigold 
and ' rose water, and to call ' his ghostly father and ' the physicians. 
In the mean time he was strangled and stark dead.'' 

Out of the history of this wild monster two points may be 
specially dwelt upon as illustrating the position of the Russian 

First, his union of frantic excesses of wickedness with 
apparently sincere bursts of religious feeling renders him, 
perhaps, the most remarkable instance which history furnishes 
of the combination of a total disregard of all the moral pre- 
cepts of religion with at least an occasional observance of 
its ceremonial and devotional duties. Antinomianism is the 
reproach of the lower and coarser forms of the Protestant 
Church. Louis XI. is a standing disgrace to the Roman 
Church. But these instances are exceeded, both in the depth 
of their wickedness and the fervour of their zeal, by Ivan the 
Terrible. A single passage out of many will suffice. He 
retired sometimes for weeks together to a monastery which he 
had built for himself near Moscow. He rang the bell for 
matins himself at three in the morning. During the services, 
which lasted seven hours, he read, chanted, and prayed with 
such fervour that the marks of his prostrations remained on 
his forehead. At dinner, whilst his attendants sat like mutes, 
he read books of religious instruction. In the intervals he 
went to the dungeons under the monastery to see with his 
own eyes his prisoners tortured, and always returned, it was 
observed, with a face beaming with delight. 1 

If it be true that the Oriental forms of Christianity are more 
exposed than others to this danger of uniting the form of godli- 
ness with the mystery of iniquity, then the history of Ivan is a 
warning which should never be absent from the mind of any 
adherent or of any admirer of the Eastern Church. His life 
reads a lesson in which every Christian community is deeply 
concerned, but none more so than the Church and Empire of 

1 Karamsin, ix. 308. 

3io The Russian Church 

But, moreover, terrible, loathsome, widespread as were his 
crimes and cruelties, he reigned not only without personal 
danger, but almost, it may be said, with personal popularity. 
When he offered to abdicate, when he drove off from the 
Kremlin in his sledges to his retreat at Alexandroff, the people 
were in despair. What would have seemed to us a deliverance 
beyond all hope seemed to them a calamity beyond all en- 
durance. They could not live without a Czar ; and when, as a 
Czar, he returned, to mangle, torture, and dishonour his sub- 
jects, he died, not by the hand of any assassin, but in the 
agonies of his own remorse. In foreigners, even then, he 
excited dread and indignation; and the English merchant 
describes how he "was sumptuously entombed in the Arch- 
angel church, where he, though guarded day and night, remains 
a fearful spectacle to the memory of such as pass by, or hear 
his name spoken of, who were entreated to cross and bless 
themselves for his resurrection again." But this feeling was 
one, with his own countrymen, not of unmingled horror. The 
epithet which we render " Terrible," in the original expresses 
rather the idea of "Awful, " the feeling with which the Athenians 
would have regarded, not Periander or Dionysius, but the 
Eumenides. His memory still lives amongst the peasants as 
of one who was a Czar indeed. The stories of his nailing the 
hat of the ambassador to his head, and of his driving his huge 
iron walking staff through the foot of one whose attention he 
wished to secure, are regarded rather as the playful condescen- 
sion of some great Leviathan, than as the unfeeling cruelties of 
a wicked prince. 1 

II. The Czar was the first person in the Church, the 
Metropolitan of Russia was the second. The holy city of 
Kieff was, as we have seen, the earliest seat of the Russian 
Primacy. This was the traditional scene of S. Andrew's 
preaching, the actual scene of Vladimir's first proclamation 
of the Gospel. But the ultimate and permanent seat of the 
Russian Primates was Moscow, which was in fact their creation. 
When the Grand-Prince Ivan I. was doubtfully establishing 
his habitation on the Kremlin hill, his determination was 
fixed and steadied by the counsel of Peter the Metropolitan. 
4C If thou wilt comfort my old age, if thou wilt build here a 
temple worthy of the Mother of God, thou shalt then be more 
glorious than all the other princes, and thy posterity shall 

1 I heard of these stories myself, but they are also given in Collins, 45. 

in the Middle Ages 311 

become great. My bones shall remain in this city ; prelates 
shall rejoice to dwell in it ; and the hands of its princes shall 
be on the neck of our enemies." l 

The heart of Moscow is the Kremlin, and the heart of the 
Kremlin is the Patriarchal Cathedral, the Church of the 
Assumption or Repose of the Virgin. It is, in dimensions, 
what in the West would be called a chapel rather than a 
cathedral. But it is so fraught with recollections, so teeming 
with worshippers, so bursting with tombs and pictures, from 
the pavement up to the cupola, that its smallness of space is 
forgotten in the fulness of its contents. On the platform of its 
nave, from Ivan the Terrible downwards to this day, the Czars 
have been crowned. Along its altar screen are deposited the 
most sacred pictures of Russia: that, painted by the Metropolitan 
Peter ; this, sent by the Greek Emperor Manuel ; that, brought 
by Vladimir from Kherson. High in the cupola is the chapel, 
where, as at the summit of the Russian Church, the Russian 
Primates were elected. In the depth of the throne, behind 
the altar, is the sacred picture which commemorates the 
original rock of Kieff, whence the see of Moscow was hewn. 
Round the walls are buried the Primates of the Church ; at 
the four corners, here as in all Oriental buildings the place of 
honour, lie those most highly venerated. 

It was by gradual changes that the Metropolitans of the 
Russian Church were rendered independent of Constantinople. 
Jonah, in the middle of the fifteenth century, was the first in 
whose appointment " the Great Church " had no direct share. 
And after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the Patriarch 
Jeremiah, in 1587, consented to turn Job, the Metropolitan 
of Moscow, into a Patriarch ; the Patriarchate of Russia thus, 
according to a theory which has been advanced in the Eastern 
Church, supplying the place of the Patriarch of Rome, vacated, 
as is alleged, by the schism 2 of the Roman Bishop. But those 
external changes affected very slightly the character and bearing 
of those who filled the see. An almost uniform spirit breathes 
through them all. Hard by, in the neighbouring convent, lies 
one of the earliest and most famous, Alexis the Wonder-worker, 
whose grave is still visited by every sovereign on his entrance 
into Moscow. " Whose tomb is this ? " asked Davoust, in the 
French occupation; and on being told, he replied, "Let the 

1 Mouravieff, 54. 

2 See the Vindication of the See of Constantinople (before quoted in 
Lecture I. p. 66), by Gregory, the Secretary of the Synod, p. 158. 

312 The Russian Church 

old man rest." What the French general thus expressed on 
the impulse of the moment is the feeling with which history 
may regard, with one or two exceptions to be hereafter noticed, 
the whole series of these ancient prelates. " Let the old men 

They were mostly blameless and venerable men ; some had 
not unimportant parts to play in the leading events of Russian 
history. The personal regard shown to them, as still to their 
successors, probably exceeds the respect attaching to ecclesiastics 
of the West. When the present aged Metropolitan of Moscow 
leaves the cathedral, it is with difficulty that he can struggle 
through the crowd, who, were he of pure gold and did every 
touch carry away a particle, could hardly press more eagerly to 
devour his hand with kisses, or lay a finger on the hem of his 
garment. And when he drives away in his state carriage, 
drawn by six black horses, every one stands bareheaded in the 
street as he passes, and the bells of the innumerable churches 
and chapels of Moscow, as the carriage rolls by, join in an 
ever-increasing river of sound, tributary streams of all dimensions, 
from the tinkling of a brook to the roaring of a cataract, falling 
in and telling the course of his route long after he is out of 

But neither the grandeur of the office, nor the enthusiasm 
of the people, has ever raised the Primates of Russia to a level 
of political importance, I will not say with the Popes, but even 
with the prelates of Europe. They have always been the 
supporters, not the rivals, of the throne. There has been no 
Hildebrand, no Becket, no Anselm amongst them. Of the 
ipur who rest in the four corners of the cathedral, Peter, the 
first Metropolitan, has the honour of being the co-founder of 
Moscow with the first Ivan ; Jonah was the prelate who made 
the see independent of Constantinople ; Hermogenes died a 
victim to the Polish invaders ; Philip alone came into collision 
with the Imperial power, and that was expressly and distinctly 
with the personal cruelties, not with the secular authority, of 
Ivan the Terrible. " As the image of the Divinity, I reverence 
thee; as a man, thou art but dust and ashes." It is a true 
glory of the Russian Church, and an example to the hierarchy 
of all churches, that its one martyred prelate should have 
suffered, not for any high ecclesiastical pretensions, but in the 
simple cause of justice and mercy. " Silence," he said, as he 
rebuked the Czar, " lays sin upon the soul, and brings death 
to the whole people. ... I am a stranger and a pilgrim upon 

in the Middle Ages 313 

earth, as all my fathers were, and I am ready to suffer for the 
truth. Where would my faith be if I kept silence ? . . . Here 
we are offering up the bloodless sacrifice to the Lord ; while 
behind the altar flows the innocent blood of Christian men." 
As he was dragged away from the cathedral, his one word was 
" Pray." As he received his executioners in the narrow cell of 
his prison in the convent of Twer, his one word was " Perform 
thy mission." l That narrow cell, now locked up and almost 
forgotten, is more truly deserving the name of " the Martyrdom " 
than the spot where our English primate fell, with more spirit, 
but not with more courage, and certainly not with a better 
cause, nor with more meekness or charity. The death of Philip 
of Moscow, however obscure in ecclesiastical annals, is at least 
valuable as a proof that in order to secure a protest against the 
lust and cruelty of sovereigns, it is not necessary to have a 
perpetual irritation between the powers of Church and State. 
One such prelate occurs in the Russian history, and he more 
in appearance than in fact. But he, the Patriarch Nicon, lies 
far away from his predecessors at Moscow, and beyond the 
limits of the mediaeval age, of which we are now speaking. 

III. I pass to the third ecclesiastical power in the Russian 
commonwealth the Monastic orders. Here, as I have observed 
on a former occasion, 2 we must dismiss from our minds all the 
Western ideas of beneficence, learning, preaching, such as we 
ascribe to the Benedictines, Franciscans, or Dominicans ; of 
statecraft, energy, and policy, such as we ascribe to the Jesuits. 
These developments of the system are, according to the view 
of the Orthodox Church of the East, an infringement of the 
contemplative ascetic character of the anchorets and coenobites 
of antiquity. In the dark forests of Muscovy, in the frozen 
waters of Archangel, is carried out the same rigid system, at 
least in outward form, that was born and nurtured in the 
burning desert of the Thebaid. 

But, nevertheless, they have not been without their influence ; 
an influence very similar to that which was exercised by their 
spiritual ancestors, the ascetics of Egypt. 

There is no variety of monastic orders in Russia. The 
one name of the Black Clergy is applied to all alike. The 
one rule of S. Basil governs them all. But, for convenience, 
they may be divided into two classes ; the Hermits and the 

1 Mouravieff, 176, 177, 179. 2 Lecture I. p. 75. 

314 The Russian Church 

i. Even at the present day the influence of a hermit in 
Russia is beyond what it is in any other part of the world. 
Only a short time since died an anchoret, who for twenty years 
had lived in absolute solitude, except when he came out once 
a year to receive the Eucharist on Easter-day, and who yet, at 
the end of that time, was consulted in the belief of his practical 
sagacity far and wide through the empire. " It was as if by the 
concentration of his will he had acquired a kind of magnetic 
power" so it was described to me by one who had heard 
much of him " over all who came within his reach." In 
earlier times this sanctity had acquired a still stronger hold. 
Anthony and Theodosius in the caves of Kieff were the direct 
imitators of Anthony and Hilarion in Egypt, and their dried 
skeletons still attract pilgrims from the utmost bounds of 
Kamtschatka. The pillar hermits, imitators of Simeon Stylites, 
never reached the West, but were to be found in the heart of 
Russia. 1 But there was a further and a more noble function 
which these wild hermits exercised. Let me describe them as 
they appeared to English travellers of the sixteenth century. 2 
" There are certain eremites, who used to go stark naked, save 
a clout about their middle, with their hair hanging long and 
wildly about their shoulders, and many of them with an iron 
collar or chain about their necks or middles even in the very 
extremity of winter. These they take as prophets and men of 
great holiness, giving them a liberty to speak what they list 
without any controlment, though it be of the very highest him- 
self. So that if he reprove any openly, in what sort soever, 
they answer nothing, but that it is Po Grecum, 'for their sins.' 
And if any of them take some piece of sale ware from any 
man's shop as he passeth by, to give where he list, he thinketh 
himself much beloved of God, and much beholden to the holy 
man for taking it in that sort. The people liketh very well of 
them, because they are as pasquils [pasquins] to note their great 
men's faults, that no man else dare speak of. Yet it falleth out 
sometimes that for this rude liberty which they take upon them, 
after a counterfeit manner by imitation of prophets, they are 
made away in secret ; as was one or two of them in the late 
Emperor's time for being overbold in speaking against his 
government. ... Of this kind there are not many, because 
it is a very hard and cold profession to go naked in Russia, 
especially in winter." 

1 Nicetas, at Peryaslav. Strahl, 138; A.D. 1086. 

2 Fletcher, Russian Commonwealth, 117. 

in the Middle Ages 315 

Of those thus described, three may be selected : 

"There is one at this time 'that walketh naked about the 
streets of Moscow, and inveigheth commonly against the state 
and government, especially against the Godonoffs." [That is, 
the high family who at that time were " thought to be oppres- 
sors of the commonwealth," and of whom the chief has ever 
since by the popular voice, of which this hermit was the power- 
ful mouthpiece, been condemned as the author of the serfdom 
of the Russian peasantry.] 

"Another there was, one whom they called Basil, that would 
take upon him to reprove the old Emperor [the terrible Ivan] 
for all his cruelty and oppression done towards the people. 
His body they have translated into a sumptuous church near 
the Emperor's house in Moscow, and have canonised him for a 
saint." That sumptuous church remains, a monument of the 
mad hermit. It is the cathedral immediately outside the 
Kremlin walls, well termed " the dream of a diseased imagin- 
ation." It was built according to the barbarous caprice of 
Ivan IV. to commemorate his conquest of Kazan. Hundreds 
of artists were kidnapped from Lubeck to erect it, pagoda on 
pagoda, cupola on cupola, staircase upon staircase, pinnacle on 
pinnacle, red, blue, green, and gold; chapel within chapel, 
altar above altar, to see how many could be congregated under 
a single roof. Day by day, it is said, he sat in the small belfry 
tower on the Kremlin walls, to watch its completion ; and, when 
it was completed, put out the eyes of the architect, that no finer 
work might ever be executed. Yet in this favourite church of 
a worse than Ahab was interred, as though he and his people 
were unconscious of any inconsistency, the body of one who 
was dreaded by him, and revered by the people almost as a 
second Elijah. He lies in the most costly of the many chapels ; 
his iron chains and collar hang over his bones, and his name, 
" S. Basil," has superseded the earlier title which the Czar had 
given it, " the Protection of our Lady," hi allusion to the con- 
quest of Kazan which it commemorated. Of all the buildings 
in Moscow it makes the deepest impression ; it stands alone, as 
a fitting monument of the mad Czar and of his mad reprover. 

Another, who lived at the same time, Nicolas of Pskoff, or 
Plescow, is thus described by Horsey, who had himself met 
him. "I saw this impostor or magician, a foul creature ; went 
naked both in winter and summer : he endured both extreme 
heat and frost ; did many things through the magical illusions 
of the devil j much followed, praised and renowned both by 

316 The Russian Church 

prince and people. He did much good " 1 when Ivan came to 
"his native town of Plescow, with the savage intention of mas- 
sacring the whole population there, as he had already done at 
Novgorod. It was the early morning as the Czar approached 
the town. The bells of the churches 2 those voices of Russian 
religion were sounding for matins, and for a moment his hard 
heart was melted, and his religious feeling was stirred. The 
iiut of the hermit was close by : Ivan saluted him and sent him 
a present. The holy man, in return, sent him a piece of raw 
flesh. It was during the great fast of Lent, 3 and Ivan expressed 
his surprise at such a breach of the rules of the Church. 
41 Ivasko, Ivasko," 4 that is "Jack, Jack," so with his accus- 
tomed rudeness the hermit addressed his terrible sovereign, 
" thinkest thou that it is unlawful to eat a piece of beast's 
flesh in Lent, and not unlawful to eat up so much man's flesh 
as thou hast already ? " 5 At the same time he pointed to a 
dark thunder-cloud over their heads, and threatened the Czar 
with instant destruction by it, if he or any of his army touched 
a hair of the least child's head in that city, which God by his 
good angel did preserve for better purpose than his rapine. 6 
Ivan trembled and retired, 7 and Plescow was saved. 

I have given these instances, because they explain the rever- 
ence of the people for the memory of those rough messengers 
of unwelcome truth. They are also characteristic of the truly 
Oriental aspect of the Russian Church. A Dervish 8 in Arabia 
or India is the lowest type of the same phenomenon ; the 
Prophets of the Jewish people are its highest type, not unfitly 
illustrated by these its later representatives. They ought also 
to be borne in mind to correct a too severe judgment of the 
ceremonial character of the Russian faith. No Prophet of old, 
no Reformer of modern times, could have delivered a more 
striking testimony in behalf of the true moral character of 
Christianity, than the wild hermit with his raw flesh in Lent. 

2. I pass to the Monasteries. Mostly they sprang out of the 
neighbourhood of hermitages, like their Egyptian prototypes; 
but they too gradually acquired a peculiar mission in the 

1 Horsey, 161. 2 Fletcher, 118. 8 Mouravieff, 119. 

4 Fletcher, 118. 5 Karamsin, ix. 635. 6 Horsey, 161, 162. 

7 One account says that he still persisted in ordering the great bell of 
the church of the Holy Trinity to be moved ; but that his best horse fell, 
according to the warning of Nicolas, and that he then retired. Strahl's 
Cieschichte, iii. 213. 

8 For an excellent description of the better and more prophet-like aspect 
of the Dervishes, see Wolff's Life, i. 477. 

in the Middle Ages 317 

Russian history a mission disclosed in their outward aspect 
and situation. We look round from the walls of the Kremlin 
over the city of Moscow. What are the landmarks which 
break the endless complication of domes and cupolas in every 
street and square? The eye rests at once on the towers of 
vast monasteries which at regular intervals encircle the outskirts 
of the whole city, each encompassed with its embattled wall's,, 
forming together a girdle of gigantic fortresses. Or we stand 
on the grass-grown walls of the great Novgorod ; the ancient 
city has shrunk into a mere village within their circuit; and 
without, instead of the wide expanse of buildings which fill up 
the view of the later capital of Moscow, is now a desolate 
wilderness. Yet this one feature remains alike in both. At 
regular intervals, but here isolated and in deserted solitudes,, 
the circle of monasteries half sanctuaries, half fortresses- 
preserves the ribs of the huge skeleton from which the flesh of 
human habitation and cultivation has long since fallen away. 
This is the true aspect of the Russian monasteries. Like the. 
convent of Sinai, like the convents of Greece, they are the. 
refuges of national life, or the monuments of victories won for 
an oppressed population against invaders and conquerors. 

IV. This brings me to what I have called the two leading 
events of the mediaeval age of Russia, in which the Russian. 
Church played so conspicuous a part. 

i. The first was the occupation of Russia for two centuries 
by the Mongol Tartars. The leading event of mediaeval 
Europe was, undoubtedly, the Crusades. In the Crusades 
Russia took no part. Its separation from them is one of its 
most important grounds of separation from the Western World, 
But in its constant struggle against the Mussulman Tartars of 
the North it had a Crusade of its own, far more close and 
severe, more disastrous in its duration, and proportionately 
more glorious in its close, than the remote struggle of Europe 
with the Mussulman Turks and Arabs of the South. With the 
history only of one Western country can the history of Russia, 
be in this respect compared. In Spain, as well as in Russia,, 
the effects, partly in similar, partly in dissimilar forms, are most, 
strongly impressed on the religious life of the nation. Civilis- 
ation and consolidation must have been greatly checked. But 
the intensity of devotional feeling, the close identification of the 
religious and the national life, must have been immeasurably 
deepened by this long struggle against foreign enemies of a 
different faith. 

318 The Russian Church 

The very name for a Russian peasant, Christianin (Christian), 
is a relic of the times when a Christian was a distinctive term 
for a Russian. On the top of every Russian church, in every 
town which was under the Tartar yoke, 1 the Cross is planted 
on a Crescent. To this is to be ascribed the strong anti- 
Mussulman feeling which animates the heart of every Russian 
peasant, and which, whether by nature or policy, is so powerful 
an engine in all the wars which have in later times been waged 
against Turkey. 

It was during this Tartar dominion that the clergy showed 
themselves the deliverers of their country. The post that is 
occupied by Europe by princes and warriors against the several 
oppressors of their respective countries, is occupied in Russia 
against the Tartars, as in modern Greece against the Turks, 
by the Clergy and the Church. Of this fire of national and 
religious independence the sacred hearth is to be sought, not 
at Kieff or Moscow, but at a spot which, from this singular 
union of associations, has, down to the present day, remained 
the chief sanctuary of the Russian Church and nation the 
Monastery of the Troitza ("the Holy Trinity") which was 
founded at this period ; the period marked, as in Europe at 
large so in Russia, by the pestilence of the Black Death, 2 and 
in the latter followed by the general establishment of convents, 
of which that of the Troitza was chief. About sixty miles from 
Moscow, in the midst of the wild forest which covers all the 
uncultivated ground of the Russian soil, rises the immense pile 
of the ancient convent. Like the Kremlin, it combines the 
various institutions of monastery, university, palace, cathedral, 
churches, planted within a circuit of walls, which by their 
height and strength, and towers and trench, indicate that, over 
and above all these other elements of life, was superadded in a 
predominant degree that of a camp or fortress. 

Hither from all parts of the Empire stream innumerable 
pilgrims. Every village along the road from Moscow is conse- 
crated by some religious or historical association. No Emperor 
comes to Moscow without paying his devotions there. The 
terrible Ivan built at least half of its stately edifices. Peter, as 
we shall see, twice took refuge within its sacred walls. The 
wicked Catharine used to go thither from Moscow with all her 

1 King's Greek Church in Russia, 24. 

2 The chief year of the Black Death was. 1348. It reached Russia in 
1351. The Troitza was founded in 1338; but its great increase, and its 
dependencies, date from 1360. Strahl, 163-165. 

in the Middle Ages 319 

court, on foot, by easy stages, five miles a day ; with vessels of 
the water of the Neva always at hand to refresh her. On foot 
many of the nobles of the present day have made their first 
pilgrimage. No presents are so welcome to their families on their 
return, as the memorials of sacred bread, or sacred relics, from 
" the Laura " or convent of the Holy Trinity. The office of 
Archimandrite, or Abbot, is so high that for many years it has 
never been given to any one but the Metropolitan of Moscow : 
the actual chief, the Hegoumenos or Prior, is himself one of the 
highest dignitaries of Russia, and lives in a style of magnificence, 
which is to our eyes rather like that of the heads of our 
grandest colleges, than of the ruler of a monastic establish- 
ment. "Whence do you derive your support for all this 
state?" asked the Emperor Nicholas of the present Prior. 1 
He answered nothing, but pointed to the chest which at that 
moment, and at all hours of the day, was receiving the offerings 
of the long array of pilgrims, and which has contributed in no 
slight degree to the necessities of the Empire. 

Its present splendour stands but in remote connection with 
its simple beginning, to which we now return. In the treasury 
of the convent we still can trace back, by gradual stages, the 
gorgeous vestments glittering with " barbaric gold and pearls," 
to the rough sackcloth of the founder ; or the mass of wealth 
which each succeeding Czar has heaped upon the consecrated 
vessels, to the wooden chalice in which the first sacrament was 
there celebrated by Sergius of Radonegl. We may be reminded 
of our profound ignorance of those old Eastern worthies, and 
of the way in which history is often composed, by the fact that 
our common Western histories of Russia pass by the whole 
period of the times of Sergius, without even an allusion to a 
name at least as dear to every Russian heart, and as familiar 
among Russian homes, as William Tell to a Swiss, or as Joan 
of Arc to a Frenchman. In the depth of these then im- 
penetrable forests, with the bears for his companions, lived, 
in the fourteenth century, the holy hermit Sergius. Like the 
lives of Western saints of the same period, his career is en- 
circled with a halo of legend. But there is no reason to doubt 
the fact, which still lives in a thousand , memorials through- 
out his grateful country. When the heart of the Grand- 
Prince Demetrius 2 failed in his advance against the Tartars, 

1 This is also told of Philaret, the Metropolitan, in regard to the offer- 
ings made before the picture at the entrance to the public place of Moscow. 

2 Demetrius himself was almost a saint ; he went daily to church, and 

320 The Russian Church 

it was the remonstrance, the blessing, the prayers of Sergius 
that supported him to the field of battle on the Don, which 
gave him the cherished name of Demetrius of the Don. No 
historical picture or sculpture in Russia is more frequent 
than that which- represents the youthful warrior receiving the 
benediction of the aged hermit. Two of his monks, Peresvet 
and Osliab, accompanied the Prince to the field, and fought in 
coats of mail drawn over their monastic habit ; and the battle 
was begun by the single combat of Peresvet with a gigantic 
Tartar, champion of the Mussulman host. 1 

The two chief convents in the suburbs of Moscow still pre- 
serve the recollection of that day. One is the vast fortress of 
the Donskoi 2 Monastery, under the Sparrow Hills. The other 
is the Simonoff Monastery, founded by the nephew of Sergius 
on the banks of the Mosqua, on a beautiful spot chosen by the 
saint himself, and its earliest site was consecrated by the tomb 
which covers the bodies of his two warlike monks. From that 
day forth he stood out in the national recollections as the 
champion of Russia. It was still from his convent that the 
noblest patriotic inspirations were drawn, and, as he had led 
the way in giving the first great repulse to the Tartar power, so 
the final blow in like manner came from a successor in his 
place. When Ivan III. wavered, as Demetrius had wavered 
before him, it was by the remonstrance of Archbishop Bassian, 
formerly Prior of the Trinity Convent, that Ivan too was driven, 
almost against his will, to the field. " Dost thou fear death ? " 
so he was addressed by the aged prelate. "Thou too must 
die as well as others ; death is the lot of all, man, beast, and 
bird alike ; none avoid it. Give these warriors into my hand, 
and, old as I am, I will not spare myself, nor turn my back 
upon the Tartars." 3 The Metropolitan, we are told, added his 
exhortations to those of Bassian. Ivan returned to the camp, 
the Khan of the Golden Horde fled without a blow, and Russia 
was set free for ever. 

2. The invasion and expulsion of the Mongols form the 
first crisis of Russian history ; the invasion and expulsion of 

received the sacrament once a week in the great fasts, and wore a haircloth 
next his skin. Strahl, 171. At the battle he sang aloud the 46th Psalm. 
Karamsin, i. 81. 

1 MouraviefF, 62. 

2 It commemorated, not indeed the actual victory of the Don, but the 
gift of a sacred picture by the Kalmucks of the Don to Demetrius (Strahl, 
1 68), which in later times went out against the Tartars of the Crimea. 

3 Mouravieff, 88. 

in the Middle Ages 321 

the Poles form the second. We are so much accustomed to 
regard the Russians as the oppressors of the Poles, that we find 
it difficult to conceive a time when the Poles were the oppres- 
sors of the Russians. Our minds are so preoccupied with the 
Russian partition of Poland, that we almost refuse to believe in 
the fact that there was once a Polish partition of Russia. Yet 
so it was, and neither the civil nor the ecclesiastical history of 
Russia can be understood without bearing in mind that long 
family quarrel between the two great Sclavonic nations, to us 
so obscure, to them so ingrained, so inveterate, so intelligible. 
Its political effects may be here dismissed. But its ecclesias- 
tical effect was hardly less important than that produced by 
the wars with the Tartars. As the vehement anti-Mussulman 
spirit of the nation was quickened by the one, so the vehement 
anti-Popish spirit received a strong impulse from the other. 
Poland was to Russia the chief representative of the Latin 
Church; Papal supremacy was in the national mind identi- 
fied with the Polish conquest ; and the war between the 
two nations became identified with a war between the two 
Churches. 1 The nations have now changed places in their 
relative importance, but not more so than Spain and England 
since the days when our own terror and hatred of Popery were 

1 The following extracts from the Eastern travellers who visited Russia 
in the seventeenth century illustrate this feeling : 

"And why do I pronounce the Poles accursed? Because they have 
shown themselves more debased and wicked than the corrupt worshippers 
of idols, by their cruel conduct to Christians, thinking to abolish the very 
name of Orthodox. God perpetuate the empire of the Turks for ever and 
ever ! for they take their impost and enter into no account of religion, be 
their subjects Christians or Nazarenes, Jews or Samaritans : whereas these 
accursed Poles were not content with taxes and tithes from the brethren of 
Christ, though willing to serve them ; but, according to the true relation 
we shall afterwards give of their history, they subjected them to the 
authority of the enemies of Christ, the tyrannical Jews, who did not even 
permit them to build churches, nor leave them any priests that knew the 
mysteries of their faith ; but, on the contrary, violated their wives and 
daughters, rf they at all appeared abroad in the public exercise of their 
religion. When the Almighty had seen their tyranny, he made them the 
laughing-stock of their enemies, and laid them low and contemptible, as 
we shall truly relate of them in the sequel, until he had taken vengeance of 
their haughtiness." Macarius, i. 165. 

" O you infidels ! O you monsters of impurity ! O you hearts of stone ! 
what had the nuns and women done ? what the girls and boys and infant 
children, that you should murder them ? If you had courage, you would 
have gone to fight with the venerable old man who has set you as a laughing- 
stock to the world, who has slain your princes and grandees, and annihi- 
lated your heroes and valiant men." Ibid. i. 183. 


322 The Russian Church 

inspired by the Spanish Armada. As the deliverance from the 
Spanish Armada to the Church and State of England, so was 
the deliverance from the Polish yoke to the Church and State 
of Russia. It was the latter part of the seventeenth century 
that witnessed the crisis of the struggle. The dynasty of 
Ruric came to an end in the death or the murder of the 
child Demetrius, last of the race. Pretender after pretender, 
false Demetrius succeeding to false Demetrius, occupied the 
Imperial throne, and the Polish Sigismund seized the oppor- 
tunity of supporting the armies of the impostor. Moscow was 
in their hands, the Latin services were chanted in the Kremlin, 
organs were heard in the Patriarchal church, 1 anarchy spread 
through the country. 

Once again it was the Church that saved the Empire, and 
the monastery of Sergius that saved them both. Hermogenes 
the Patriarch stood his ground for a time, but he was starved 
to death, imprisoned almost within his own cathedral. Philaret, 
Archbishop of Rostoff, maintained the sinking spirit of the 
people, till he too was carried off into captivity. But now, 
when Czar and Patriarch had disappeared, when the holy city 
of Moscow itself was in the hands of strangers and heretics, 
the Trinity Convent still remained erect. Its fortifications, its 
moat, its towers, now served a noble purpose in resisting the 
long siege. Its warlike traditions revived in the persons of its 
soldier-like monks. As Demetrius of the Don had received 
his blessing from Sergius, so the true patriots of this second 
struggle the Prince Pojarsky, and Minin, chief of one of the 
guilds of Nijni-Novgorod received their mission (as we see 
again and again repeated in national monuments) from the 
successor of Sergius, the courageous Dionysius. The soul of 
the movement in the convent itself was the bursar of immortal 
memory, Abraham Palitzin. Rude pictures still represent, in 
strange confusion, the mixture of artillery and apparitions, 
fighting monks and fighting ghosts, which drove back the 
Polish assailants from the walls of the beleaguered fortress. 
The convent was for the time the whole empire, and its victory 
was the deliverance of Russia. Moscow was retaken. In the 
town-house of the Trinity Monastery, still bearing the same 
name, the Prior presided at the Council which terminated the 
civil war, and the bursar Abraham announced its results to 
the assembled people. Of the religious aspect of that great 

1 Strahl, 223 ; A.D. 1605. 

in the Middle Ages 323 

deliverance many are the memorials which remain, standing 
monuments of the final overthrow of the Latin Church in 
Russia. Every one has heard of the Sacred Gate, the 
Redeemer's Gate, the chief entrance to the Kremlin, through 
which no Russian, not even the Emperor himself, will presume, 
through which no stranger is allowed, to pass with his head 
covered. The practice dates from this epoch. The picture of 
the Redeemer which hangs over the gate, and invests it with 
this unequalled sanctity, is that which went before Pojarsky's 
army when he set forth at the bidding of Dionysius. Within 
the church of the archangel, amidst the tombs of the Czars, the 
one canonised saint, the one coffin glittering with jewels and 
gold, is that of the young child Demetrius, whose death or 
martyrdom was lamented with an everlasting lamentation, as 
the cause of the convulsions which followed upon it. The 
very existence of the present Imperial dynasty is a living tribute 
to the services of the Russian hierarchy at the time of their 
country's greatest need. Now that the race of Ruric was 
passed away, and that the nobles had proved unequal to the 
conflict, the people looked to the clergy as the class from whose 
rank they should take their future chief. Philaret, once a 
humble parish priest, then Archbishop of Rostoff, afterwards 
Patriarch of Moscow, and his wife Martha, separated from her 
husband in the long wars, and secluded as a nun in the 
convent of Kostroma, were the parents of the future Czar. 

Michael Romanoff, son of Philaret, grandson of Roman, 
became the founder of the house of Romanoff, the ancestor of 
Peter and Alexander and Nicholas. So ended the period of 
the middle ages in Russia ; so was wrought out the deliverance 
of the Empire and the Church by the monastery of Sergius. 

324 Russian Church in Middle Ages 



V Invasion and dominion of Tartars. 

1325. Foundation of the Church of Moscow. Peter, the first 


1338. Foundation of the Troitza monastery by Sergius. 
1354. Alexis, Metropolitan. 
1380. Battle of the Don. Victory over the Tartars by Demetrius 

1395. Retreat of Tamerlane. 

' | Jonah, first Metropolitan ; independent of the see of Constantinople. 

1467. Marriage of Ivan III. with Sophia of Constantinople. Building 

of the Cathedral of Moscow. 
1472. Fall of Novgorod the Great. 

Victory of Ivan III. on the Oka. 

I5 ^H Ivan IV., or the Terrible. 

1568. Martyrdom of S. Philip. 
1587. Job, first Patriarch. 
1598. End of the race of Ruric. 

'I 98 ' \BorisGodonof. 
i6o 5 ./ 

1606. \Wars of the Pretenders, and Invasion of the Poles. 
1613- / Siege of the Troitza Convent. Expulsion of the Poles, 



THE accessible materials for the Life of Nicon are : 

1. "The Travels of Macarius in the i;th century." Translated 

from the Arabic by the Oriental Translation Society (see p. 328). 

2. Bachmeister's "Life of Nicon." (German.) 

3. Hermann's " History of Russia." (German.) 

4. Mouravieff's " History of the Russian Church," c. x.-xiv. 

5. Palmer's " Dissertations on the Orthodox Communion," c. v. 

6. " Collins's Account of Russia." 16671678. 

There has seldom been a more decisive epoch in the 
history of a nation than that which witnessed the succession 
of the Romanoff dynasty to the throne of Muscovy. A deep 
calm, like that which supervened on the Wars of the Roses in 
England, or on the Wars of the League in France, succeeded 
to the long struggle of the Wars of the Pretenders at the 
commencement of the seventeenth century in Russia. As 
elsewhere, so here, the fortunes of the Church and the nation 
were inseparable. The Czar Michael and the Patriarch Philaret 
ruled together, an event most characteristic of the people, and, 
as a Russian historian observes, "remarkable in the annals 
of the world, which has in no country nor in any time been 
repeated, of a father as patriarch and his son as sovereign 
governing together the kingdom." The nation was freed from 
the Tartars and the Poles; the Church was freed from the 
Mussulmans and the Latins ; their independent existence now, 
for the first time, gave hope for their free development. 

It is on this stage, thus newly created, that we have to 
witness the parallel, such as it is, which Russian history presents 
to the Ayestern Reformation. That event is so thoroughly 
a part of our existence that we can hardly imagine a Church 
or a Christian nation in existence which has not passed through 
it in some form or other. Such an exception, at first sight, 
seems to be found in Russia. Yet even this is not altogether 
an exception. It is a fact much to be observed, that the 
Church and the nation of all others in Europe the most 
tenacious of antiquity could not escape a Reformation entirely. 1 
The nearest approach made in the Eastern Church to an 

1 For the Eastern view of the Reformation, see Macarius, i. 224. 


The Patriarch Nicon 

adoption of the general doctrines of the Western Reformation 
was by Cyril Lucar, Greek Patriarch of Alexandria, and after- 
wards of Constantinople. 1 His whole life was a complicated 
struggle against the Jesuits of the Latin, and the hierarchy of 
the Greek, Church, and a yearning after the Protestant, chiefly 
the Calvinistic, theology of Geneva, Holland, and England. 
Abbot and Laud both encouraged his advances, and whilst 
his attempts in his own Church ended with his barbarous 
murder at Constantinople, one monument of his intercourse 
with our Church still remains, in our possession of his precious 
gift of the " Alexandrian manuscript" of the Scriptures. 

In Russia the only direct attempt at a religious revolution 
was that made contemporaneously with the Reformation, and 
possibly in connection with it, in the reign of Ivan III., when 
a secret but extensive sect of Judaisers took possession of 
some of the leading offices of Church and State, and at one 
time actually occupied the Patriarchal chair, and was totally 
suppressed by one of the few acts of violent persecution 2 
which have stained the usual tolerance of the Eastern Church. 
A more serious purpose of rectifying the abuses, at least of the 
outward system of the Church, was conceived, and in part 
executed, by the awful Ivan, who, as if to make himself a 
warning to all Churches, Protestant as well as Papal, combined 
with his hideous crimes the character, not only, as we have 
sufficiently seen, of a religious ascetic, but also of a religious 
reformer. From his retreat at Alexandroff he issued a denuncia- 
tion of monastic abuses worthy of Luther or Henry VIII. , 
and Horsey describes the delight and pastime with which he 
brought out " seven rebellious big fat friars, one after another, 
with a cross and beads in one hand and, through the Emperor's 
great favour, a boar-spear in the other, to be exposed to 
a wild boar, fierce and hungry, who caught and crushed his 
victims, as a cat doth a mouse, tearing their weeds in pieces 
till he came to the flesh, blood, and bones, and so devoured 
them for a prey." 3 But Ivan was not the man to carry through 
a steady and deliberate plan. One only permanent work he 
left behind, no doubt of infinite importance in this direction, 

1 For Cyril Lucar, see a brief sketch in Dean Waddington's Greek 
Church, 173 ; and an elaborate, though unfavourable, account in Neale's 
Alexandrian Church, ii. 356-454. 

2 See Palmer's Orthodox Communion, 142; also a Russian historical 
romance called "The Heretic." 

3 Horsey, 178. 

The Patriarch Nicon 327 

a printing-press at Moscow; 1 and the first printed Russian 
volume, still preserved in the Imperial Library, at St. Peters- 
burg, is the version of the Acts of the Apostles dating from 
his reign. 

All these attempts were more or less isolated and abortive. 
It is not till the period on which we have now entered that 
the true work of the Russian Reformation' begins. Two 
leading figures fix our attention. The first, who guides us 
through the period of transition from the middle of the 
seventeenth century to the beginning of the eighteenth, is 
the Patriarch Nicon. The second, who will guide us through 
the period of completion, is the Emperor Peter. 

Our present concern is with the Patriarch Nicon. In 
naming his name we feel at once the immense disadvantage 
of Eastern as compared with Western history. How few of us 
have ever heard of him : how impenetrable even to those who 
have heard of him is the darkness of the original language in 
which his biography is wrapped up ! Yet he is unquestionably 
the greatest character in the annals of the Russian hierarchy ; 
and, even in the annals of the Eastern hierarchy generally, 
there are but few who can be ranked before him as ecclesiastical 
statesmen. Photius in the ninth century, and Chrysostom in 
the fourth, in some respects remind us of the career of Nicon. 
Indeed, the similarity may be fairly taken as a proof of the 
identity of spirit which breathed, at the interval of six centuries, 
through the two main branches of the Eastern Church. He 
was a Russian Chrysostom. He was also, in coarse and 
homely proportions, a Russian Luther and a Russian Wolsey. 
But here the differences are far more palpable than those 
which divide him from the Patriarch of Constantinople. 
Through all the obscurity which hangs over him, there is 
yet discernible a genuine human character, combining with 
a wilful barbaric obstinacy, as of an overgrown spoiled child, 
the causjttc humour, the indefatigable energy, of a statesman 
of the extremest West. In the series of portraits professing 
to represent the hierarchy of ancient Russia, his is the first 
that imprints itself on our minds with the stamp of individual 
originality. In the various monasteries over which he presided, 
his grim countenance looks down upon us with bloodshot eyes, 
red complexion, and brows deeply knit. The vast length of 
his pontifical robes, preserved as relics of his magnificence, 

1 Strahl, 282. 

328 The Patriarch Nicon 

reveals to us the commanding stature, no less than seven feet, 
which he shares with so many of his more distinguished 
countrymen. And his story, if it could be told with the 
details many of which lie buried in the Russian archives, 
but some of which have been published and translated in 
well-known works is as full of dramatic complexity and 
pathetic interest, as was ever conceived in Timon of Athens 
or King Lear. 

I pass over the events of his early life. Born in the troubles 
of the wars of the Pretenders, raised from the ranks of the 
peasants to the successive dignities of Archimandrite of the 
Solovetzky monastery, and Metropolitan of the great Novgorod, 1 
he finally was appointed to the Patriarchate of Moscow. In 
that high office he ruled the Church and State of Russia for 
six eventful years. 

One curious source of information we possess of this period, 
which I shall frequently quote. As in the reign of Ivan we 
had the advantage of the observations of an English eye-witness 
from the West, so in the Patriarchate of Nicon we have the 
advantage of a Syrian eye-witness from the East. Macarius, 
Patriarch of Antioch, had travelled into Russia to collect 
money for his distant see, and was accompanied by his 
Archdeacon Paul, who has left us a minute journal of all 
that occurred, having, as he says, "roused his languid mind 
to the task, and stretched towards the object his recoiling 
pen." It is valuable as giving us the impressions of a Christian 
from the remote East on seeing the Church of Russia, and 
thus enabling us to estimate the difference between the two ; 
and yet more as giving us the impression produced on the 
garrulous Archdeacon by the contrast between the shadowy 
Oriental prelates and the robust and vigorous character of the 
Patriarch of Moscow. 

Nicon, as I have said, was the first Russian reformer. But 
we must not expect from this parallel a direct reformation of 
doctrine or of philosophy. Such a reformation has never 
taken place in any branch of the Eastern Church; partly 
because it was less needed than in the West, partly because 
the whole character of the nations composing the Eastern 
Church has set in another direction. But still Nicon was, so 
far as we know, the first Eastern ecclesiastic, with the single 
exception of Cyril Lucar, who saw that the time was come for 

1 Pie had first been a married parochial priest, but on the loss of his 
third child entered a convent. Levesque, iv. 65. 

The Patriarch Nicon 329 

giving life to the ceremonial observances, and a moral direction 
to the devotional feelings of Oriental worship. 

He set himself with stern severity and indomitable courage 
to root out the various abuses of the Russian hierarchy, 
especially the one crying evil unfortunately not yet extinct 
intemperance. To this day they remember, with a mixture 
of veneration and hatred, what they expressively called the 
"hedgehog hand" with which he kept them down. 

In his own person he exhibited a new type of pastoral 
virtues. Of unbounded munificence, he founded hospitals 
and almshouses in his successive sees for orphans, widows, 
and aged persons. In the famine which devastated the city 
of Novgorod, he showed a generosity worthy of Carlo Borromeo 
at Milan, or of Francke at Halle. He visited the prisons, 1 if 
not with the philanthropy of a Howard, at least with a prompti- 
tude of justice rare in Eastern Christendom, "on his own 
personal examination releasing the prisoners if he found them 
innocent." 2 

He broke through practices, both of Church and State, to 
which long custom had in Russia given an almost religious 
consecration. Through his intervention, the Oriental seclusion 
of the female sex was first infringed. At his injunction still, 
it is true, fenced about by many precautions the Empress, 
who had before never entered a church except under cover of 
night, now appeared publicly by day. Sacred pictures to 
which, 3 in his judgment, an idolatrous veneration was shown, 
were taken away. The baptisms of the Western Church, of 
which the validity is to this day denied by the Church of 
Constantinople, were by his sanction first recognised in the 
Church of Russia. It was, 4 indeed, granted only after a long 
and stormy discussion ; and even then conceded only to the 
Latin Church. Still it was an immense advance in charity, 
and was the first opening of a door of sympathy towards the 

From-so decayed a stock as the Byzantine Church, especially 
after its subjugation to the Ottoman power, no great accession 
of new life could be expected. But it was at least a pardonable 
feeling which led the Russian reformer to look in the first 
instance to that ancient source of the civilisation of Russia, 

1 Levesque, iv. 68. 2 Mouravieff, 196. 

3 Levesque, iv. 76. Strahl, 229; A.D. 1664. "He is no lover of 
images." Collins, 15. 

4 Macarius, ii. 85. See Palmer's Orthodox Communion, xii. xiii. 

M 2 

330 The Patriarch Nicon 

and, in earlier times, of the civilisation of Europe. The 
advances in education first introduced under Ivan the Terrible, 
and then interrupted by the wars of the Pretenders, started 
under Nicon into fresh life. The printing-press was again 
set to work. Greek and Latin were now first taught in the 
schools. 1 The "gross and harsh intonations of the Muscovites," 
as they are called by the Syrian travellers, now gave way to 
the sweet chants 2 of the Cossack choristers, brought partly 
from Poland, partly from Greece, the first beginnings of that 
vocal music which has since become the glory of the Russian 
worship. The Bible, 3 which he had profoundly studied for 
himself in his youth, he now sought to exhibit in the purest 
form of which the Sclavonic translation admitted. Deputations 
of learned scholars were sent to the Grecian monasteries to 
collect manuscripts to carry on the collations of the sacred 
books, which the Russian monk Maximus in the previous 
generation had died in attempting to accomplish. 

Chiefest of all was the change, even yet hardly appreciated 
in his country, and entirely without an example in the rest of 
the East at that time the revival of preaching. From his 
lips was first heard, after many centuries, the sound of a living 
practical sermon. We have the impression which this revolution 
produced on the mind of the Archdeacon of Antioch : 

" Remark, brother," says the Archdeacon Paul, " what happened 
now an occurrence which surprised and confused our under- 
standings. It was, that so far were they from being content with 
their lengthened services, that the Deacon brought to the Patriarch 
the book of Lessons, which they opened before him ; and he began 
to read the lesson for this day, on the subject of the Second Advent ; 
and not only did he read it, but he preached and expounded the 
meanings of the words to the standing and silent assembly ; until 
our spirits were broken within us during the tedious while. God 
preserve us and save us ! " 4 

And on another occasion : 

" The Patriarch was not satisfied with the Ritual, but he must 
needs crown all with an admonition and copious sermon. God 
grant him moderation ! His heart did not ache for the Emperor 
nor for the tender infants, standing uncovered in the intense cold. 
What should we say to this in our country?" 6 

A third example gives us at once a more pleasing impression, 

1 Levesque, iv. 76. 2 Macarius, ii. 231 ; Haxthausen, iii. 114. 

8 Levesque, iv. 70. 4 Macarius, i. 406. 5 Ibid. 49, 51, 52. 

The Patriarch Nicon 331 

and a clearer notion of his manner of preaching. The Czar 
was going forth to war : 

" The Patriarch blessed him, and then stood before him, and 
raised his voice in prayer for him, reading a beautiful exordium, 
with parables and proverbs from the ancients, such as how God 
granted victory to Moses over Pharaoh, &c. ; from modern history, 
such as the victory of Constantine over Maximianus and Maxentius, 
&c. ; adding many examples of this nature, and with much prolixity 
of discourse moving on at his leisure, like a copious stream of 
flowing water. When he stammered and confused his words, or 
made mistakes, he set himself right again with perfect composure. 
No one seemed to find fault with him or to be tired of his discourse ; 
but all were silent and attentive, as if each were a slave before his 
master." 1 

These, or such as these, were amongst the most conspicuous 
of the reforms of Nicon ; very small according to our Western 
notions, yet still in the only direction suited for an Oriental 
Church. Let those who doubt turn to the temperate hopes of 
an Eastern reformation as expressed by one certainly not 
indulgent to superstition, who added to a wide range of liberal 
learning a special knowledge of the Christian East. 2 Or let 
any one who knows anything of modern Athens say who 
amongst the English and American missionaries in those 
regions are named as the most undoubted benefactors of the 
Church of Greece, those who have attempted to subvert the 
existing forms of faith, or those who by education and social 
intercourse have infused a new life into those forms ? 3 Such 
considerations may induce us to pardon the shortcomings 
and hail the genuine efforts of the Patriarch Nicon. But, in 
carrying out his schemes, two points exhibit the rude elements 
both of his own individual character and also of his Church 
and country. 

First, it is impossible not to be struck by the savage spirit in 
which he fulfilled his task. We are not altogether unac- 
customed to rough action and speech in Martin Luther and 
John Knox, but we must expect something more in the 
Scythian atmosphere of Russia. Again I refer to the journal 
of Archdeacon Paul. "He was," says the Archdeacon, "a 
very butcher amongst the clergy. His janissaries are per- 

1 Macarius, ii. 59. 

2 Dean Waddington's Greek Church, chap, viii.-x. 

3 I allude, of course, to the excellent effects of the Greek school estab- 
lished at Athens by Mr. and Mrs. Hill. 

332 The Patriarch Nicon 

petually going round the city; and when they find any priest 
or monk in a state of intoxication, they carry him to prison, 
strip him, and scourge him. 1 His prisons are full of them, 
galled with heavy chains and logs of wood on their necks and 
legs, or they sift flour day and night in the bakehouse." 2 The 
deserts of Siberia were filled with dissolute clergy banished 
there with their wives and children. 3 An instance is recorded, 
hardly credible, but too characteristic to be omitted, perhaps 
not so much of his wild severity as of his barbarian humour. 
It was at one of the numerous banquets attended by the 
Patriarch of Antioch, that Nicon, partly to show off the 
wonders of his master's vast dominions, partly to satisfy the 
curiosity of his own inquisitive mind, called before him thirty 
chiefs of a distant Kalmuck tribe, called, from the appearance 
of their physiognomies, the dog-faced tribe, or (as a euphemism) 
the tribe of the dog-faced saint, S. Christopher. 

" As soon as they entered, the whole assembly was struck with 
horror. They bared their heads, and bowed to the Patriarch with 
great veneration, crouching to the ground all in a lump like pigs. 
After various questions as to their mode of life, and travelling, and 
warfare, he said, * Is it really true that you eat the flesh of men ? ' 
They laughed, and answered, * We eat our dead, and we eat dogs ; 
how then should we not eat men? 3 He said, * How do you eat 
men?' They replied, 'When we have conquered a man, we cut 
away his nose, and then carve him into pieces and eat him.' He 
said, ' I have a man here who deserves death : I will send for him 
and present him to you, that you may eat him.' Hereupon they 
began earnestly to entreat him, saying, ' Good Lord, whenever you 
have any men deserving of death, do not trouble yourself about 
their guilt or their punishment; but give them us to eat, and you 
will do us a great kindness.'" 

The unfortunate victim, with whom Nicon intended to 
play off this experiment, was no less a person than the 
Metropolitan of Mira. It happened that amidst other "odious 
deformities " of himself and his companions on a recent visit 
to Moscow, they were found smoking tobacco ; and all, except 
himself, were sent into banishment. Nicon was still, however, 
enraged against him ; " for," says the Syrian Archdeacon, " no 
crime with him is ever forgiven : and he now sent to have him 
brought to these savages that they might eat him. But he 
was not to be found, having hid himself." 4 

1 Macarius, ii. 364. 2 Ibid. ii. 76. 

3 Ibid. 78-. 4 Ibid. i. 420. 

The Patriarch Nicon 333 

It may be hoped, however, that this was only a severe 
practical jest; for on a subsequent occasion, when the Patri- 
arch saw the astonishment of the Syrians at the dog-faced 
tribe, "he came forward," says the Archdeacon, "and taking 
me by the hand led me before the ministers and the as- 
sembled crowd, called the savages, as if to eat me, that he 
might have his laugh and sport with us, whilst I was shud- 
dering and quaking with fear. So also he did with others." 
One, who was a deacon, he actually delivered into their hands. 
As soon. as they laid hold of him they tore his clothes to 
tatters in scrambling for him, and it was with difficulty that he 
was rescued, by redeeming him with fish and money, which 
the Patriarch gave as his price. The poor deacon, from fright 
and horror, 1 lay ill for a long time afterwards. 

Another still more serious instance is related. Three 
deacons had married again after the death of their wives by 
the plague. As soon as the Patriarch had heard of this, he 
bound them in fetters, and sent them to the Trinity Monas- 
tery, commanding that they should be confined in a wooden 
cell, without food, till they died of misery. The Patriarch of 
Antioch happened to see them on his visit, and was so much 
troubled by their tears and moans, that he interested himself 
on their behalf, and obtained their liberty. 2 We may hope 
that they, like the deacon just mentioned in the hands of the 
dog-faced tribe, were placed there rather for terror than with 
any deliberate intention of fulfilling the threat. But the 
incidents are worthy of the countrymen of Ivan the Terrible, 
as we have seen, and of Peter the Great, as we shall see. 

The second point in Nicon's career is more important. 

With all his energy and love of knowledge, he was a true 
son of the Eastern Church in his rigid observance of its 
ordinances and ritual. He shared but little in the tolerant 
and indulgent feelings which have usually marked the Russian 
policy to'wards members of other Churches. Perceiving, as 
he passed through the streets, that the European merchants 
showed no marks of reverence to the sacred pictures, he drove 
them out of Moscow. He made a point of compelling all 
foreigners to appear as such, or incorporate themselves into the 
Russian nation by baptism. An Armenian merchant offered 
him the sum of fifty thousand dinars to retain his long white 
beard ; but Nicon's only answer was, " Be baptised ; become 

1 Macarius, ii. 164. 2 Ibid. ii. 151. 

334 The Patriarch Nicon 

like one of us." 1 The merchant refused, and the Armenians 
were banished. 

In one direction only his mind was entirely, even sensitively, 
open to receive new impressions. That direction was towards 
the ancient Church and Empire of Constantinople. " I am a 
Russian," he said, "and the son of a Russian; 2 but my faith 
and my religion are Grecian." 

Such a feeling was natural, even in a more civilised mind 
than Nicon's. The Church of Constantinople even then re- 
tained, as we may see from the relations of Cyril Lucar to the 
English Church, something of a European influence ; and any 
Russian churchman of wider views would naturally turn to the 
ancient metropolis of his faith. But it had, in Nicon's case, 
this unfortunate effect. From Constantinople, as it then was, 
no new spiritual life could be expected ; at best an antiquarian 
and ceremonial form of religion, which not only narrowed the 
horizon of the reformer who looked to it for assistance, but 
turned his energies into subordinate channels, and aggravated 
the ceremonial tendencies already existing with too much 
force in his own Church. With the vast field which Nicon 
had before him, it is mournful to see the power which might 
have reanimated the whole ecclesiastical system employed on 
the correction of minute errors of ritual which can only be 
discovered through a microscope. 

In order to understand the importance ascribed to them 
either by him or by his opponents, we must bear in mind the 
almost Chinese minuteness of the civil and ecclesiastical cere- 
monial of the Russian Church and Court at that time. He saw 
worked in pearls on a vestment of a former metropolitan the 
authentic copy of the Nicene Creed, and perceived that the 
word "holy" had been inserted before the words "giver of 
life." Deputations went to Athos for correct copies of the 
service-books. The printing-press, lately established by him 
in Moscow, was set to work to circulate new rubrics. 3 His 
earliest pleasure palace was an imitation of the Iberian convent 
in Athos ; and for him it was that the copy of the picture in 
that convent was bought, which still occupies the most distin- 
guished place amongst the sacred pictures of Moscow. 4 Stern 
as he was, he was constantly asking questions from the Syrian 
strangers, to set his own ceremonial straight. 5 Benedictions with 
three fingers instead of two, a white altar cloth instead of an 

1 Macarius, ii. 23. 2 Ibid. ii. 86. 3 Ibid. ii. 85. 

4 Ibid. ii. 173. 5 Ibid. ii. 414. 

The Patriarch Nicon 335 

embroidered one, pictures kissed only twice a year, the cross 
signed the wrong way, wrong inflections in pronouncing the 
Creed, 1 these were the points to which he devoted his gigantic 
energy, and on which, as we shall see, he encountered the most 
frantic opposition. 

We are filled with surprise as we read of the contentions 
occasioned by these points, to us so infinitely insignificant. 
But remember the controversies which have rent our own 
Church in the sixteenth century (and can we altogether except 
the nineteenth ?) ; remember the parties and the mobs which 
have been formed to attack or to defend a surplice, to reform 
or to oppose a rubric, and perhaps we shall feel that we, the 
descendants and the followers of the Puritans on one side, or of 
Laud on the other, are not entitled to cast the first stone at 
Nicon or his adversaries. 

For the time his powerful hand repressed any overt out- 
break : but some murmured inwardly ; men, such as the Syrian 
Archdeacon observes are to be found in every nation, "of a heavy 
nature and understanding, saying within themselves, ' We will 
not alter our books nor our rites and ceremonies, which we 
received from of old.'. 2 But thay had not the force to speak 
openly, for the anger of the Patriarch is not to be withstood ; 
witness what he did with the Bishop of Kolomna." Take two 
instances of these suppressed murmurs and of his mode of 
dealing with them, from several points of view highly illustrative 
of this contest. 

He watched with jealousy (herein agreeing with many in the 
coming generation who else would have been most opposed to 
him) the introduction of pictures painted after the European 
fashion into the houses of the Russian nobles. Listen to 
Archdeacon Paul's account of his treatment of this subject, so 
closely interwoven, as we have seen, with the whole religious 
feeling of Russia : 

"Some of the Muscovite painters had learned to paint new 
pictures in the Frankish and Polish style. 3 And whereas this 
Patriarch is a great tyrant and loves the Grecian forms to an extreme, 
he sent his people and collected from every house wherein they 
were found such paintings as I have mentioned, even from the 
palaces of the grandees. 4 Then, putting out the eyes of the pictures, 

1 Macarius, ii. 85. 2 Ibid ii. 86. 3 Ibid. ii. 57. 

4 A similar restriction is said to have been put on instrumental music in 
private parties, either to check in its growth a custom so alien to the 


The Patriarch Nicon 

he sent them round the city by Janissaries, publishing an Imperial 
proclamation in the absence of the Czar that whosoever should hence- 
forth be found painting after such models should be severely 
punished. . . . When they saw, therefore, what the Patriarch had 
done to the pictures on this occasion, they judged that he had sinned 
greatly. Vowing imprecations upon him, and making a tumult, they 
pronounced him to be an open enemy to holy images. Whilst they 
were in this disposition of mind the plague appeared, and the sun 
was darkened on the afternoon of the I2th of August. They 
immediately said, 'All this that has befallen us is through the 
wrath of God for what our Patriarch has been committing, in con- 
tempt of our holy images.' They were all so violent against him 
that they made an attempt to kill him, for the Czar was absent, and 
there were but few troops. ... It was on the return of the Czar 
that the Patriarch, obtaining his first opportunity of making a dis- 
course in his presence, proceeded at great length to show that the 
painting after this Frank fashion was unlawful ; and he called on our 
Lord the Patriarch of Antioch to bear witness that certain pictures 
before them were on the model of the Frank paintings. [They 
anathematised, therefore, and excommunicated any one who should 
continue painting like them, and any one who should place them in 
his house.] Touching them with his hand one by one, and showing 
them to the congregation, he threw them on the iron pavement of 
the church to break them to pieces, and ordered them to be burnt. 
But as the Czar is extremely religious, and has great fear of God, 
and was standing near us with his head uncovered, attending in 
humble silence to the discourse, he entreated the Patriarch with a 
suppressed voice, saying, * No, Father ! do not burn them ; rather 
bury them in the earth.' And so were they disposed of. Every 
time the Patriarch took up one of those pictures in his hand, he 
cried aloud, saying, ' This is the picture from the house of the noble 
such an one, or of such an one' (all grandees of the Empire). His 
design was to put them to shame, that the rest of the congregation 
might see it and take warning by their example." l 

The next instance carries us nearer home : 2 

"The Patriarch, out of his great love for the caps of the Greeks, 
had just now made for himself a new white latia, in the cut of 
those of the Greek monks. . . . The headdresses of the Russian 
monks are very ugly, covering their eyes, and with ears flapping 
down upon their shoulders. With difficulty can their faces be dis- 
cerned, especially when they look upon the ground. As for the rest 
of their clothes, the filth of their dress is very great ; for they never 
wash their shirts, but wear them continually till they drop off. ... 

religious feelings of Russia, or because of the licentious songs and dances 
with which it was accompanied. Levesque, iv. 64. 

1 Macarius, ii. 50. 2 Ibid. ii. 227. 

The Patriarch Nicon 337 

The Patriarch, conscious of the great love the Czar bore him, and 
sensible of the advantage afforded him by the presence of the 
Patriarch of Antioch, mentioned the subject first to him, and then 
deposited, as usual, his new headdress in the sacristy secretly. Then 
he brought our master to intercede with the Czar that he might wear 
them : for he much feared the people, lest they should say that he 
had annulled their ancient customs and the clerical habits worn by 
their earliest saints. And so, indeed, it happened to him afterwards ; 
for when he put them on the people murmured greatly, but secretly 
through their fear of the Czar. Our master, therefore, approached 
the Czar, and said, ' We are four Patriarchs in the known world, 
and the dress of us all is alike : by our consent and permission this 
our brother has been made Patriarch in the place of the Pope of 
Rome ; and a token of the Pope is that he is distinguished by his 
white dress. If it is your majesty's pleasure, I should wish that the 
Patriarch should wear like us this headdress which I have newly had 
made for him.' The Czar, through his love for the Patriarch, was 
delighted at hearing his speech, and answered, 'Bascliaske Oobro ! ' 
i. e. ' Very well, Father.' Then taking the cap from our master, he 
kissed it, and commanded the Patriarch of Moscow to put it on. 
The Patriarch had no sooner done so than his face was lighted up 
with joy, and the Grecian headdress fitted him splendidly ; for his 
former cap shaded his countenance too much. . . . But when the 
heads of the clergy and the heads of convents, the priests and the 
laity then present, saw his new dress, they murmured much, saying 
amongst themselves, ' See how he has changed the dress of the heads 
of the clergy here, which they received by inspiration of the Holy 
Ghost, from the time we became Christians, at the hands of S. 
Peter, and does not the earth tremble at his act, who, having been 
hitherto dressed as a Muscovite, has made himself a Greek?' . . . 
Gradually, however," the Archdeacon proceeds, " the elegance of the 
Greek costume made its way. Had any of the monks of the Holy 
Mountain [Athos] been here with loads of headdresses, they would 
have sold vast numbers at a very high price. Those who obtained 
them showed faces brilliant with delight. They began to complain 
of the burdensome weight of their old latias, and threw them off 
their heads, saying, ' If this Greek dress were not of divine origin, 
the Patriarch would not have been the first to wear it.' " 

We have now, I trust, formed some general conception of 
the character of Nicon. 

I have said that he was not only an Eastern Luther but an 
Eastern Wolsey. His magnificence was on a scale before 
unparalleled. His favourite monasteries, four in number, he 
built anew from the ground, " some living after him, some dying 
with him." The Patriarchal palace in the Kremlin is his work. 
For three years the ablest architects in Russia were employed 
upon it; kitchens, stoves, chapels, such as were never seen 


The Patriarch Nicon 

before, rose within it. It still remains opposite to the north 
door of the cathedral. But it was not only in outward aspect 
that his history resembles that of Wolsey. We are now 
approaching the more human and dramatic elements of his 
story, which, whilst they give to it a higher than any mere 
ecclesiastical interest, justify us in assigning to it a place in 
history which the peculiarity of his ecclesiastical views would 
hardly sanction. 

It may be supposed, from the traits already given, that Nicon's 
conduct had made him many enemies. His innovations, as we 
have seen, and as we shall see still more clearly in the next 
century, touched the prejudices of the Russian people in their 
tenderest point. His severity exasperated the clergy. His 
insolence enraged the nobles. The Syrian traveller describes 
how the highest functionaries, who used to enter the presence 
of the Patriarch unbidden, were now kept waiting on the 
threshold ; and when they entered, it was with extreme fear 
fear many degrees more than they paid to the sovereign, he 
sitting and they standing. "There was," says the Russian 
historian, " only one man who sincerely loved Nicon, and to 
him alone was the Patriarch devoted with all his soul, and 
zealous even to excess for his glory." 1 That man was the Czar 
Alexis, son of Michael, and father of Peter. He had first seen 
Nicon years before, when he came up to Moscow from a 
distant monastery, and had been greatly struck by his tall 
stature and manly eloquence and the report of his holy life, and 
given him the convent of Novospasky, in which the first princes 
and princesses of the Romanoff dynasty were buried. From 
that time sprang up their long and close intimacy. Whilst head 
of the convent he came every Friday to the royal chapel in the 
Kremlin for the purpose of conversing with Alexis after the 
service. When raised to the see of Novgorod he went up every 
winter to consult with him, and procured the gift of the Lake 
of Valdai as a halting-place on the road, where he built the 
Iberian monastery of which I have before spoken. When raised 
at last by the entreaties of the Czar, and by his affection for him, 
to the Patriarchate, they became inseparable. "They appeared," 
I again quote the Russian historian, 2 " as one and the same 
person in all acts of government, passing all their days together, 
in the church, in the council-chamber, and at the friendly board. 
To unite themselves still closer by the bonds of spiritual 

1 Mouravieff, 215. 2 Ibid. 203. 

The Patriarch Nicon 339 

relationship, the Patriarch became godfather to all the children 
of his sovereign, and they both made a mutual vow never to 
desert each other on this side the grave." This friendship was 
cemented in the strongest manner, during the great plague 
which ravaged Moscow, a few years before its appearance in 
London. The Czar, who was absent, begged the Patriarch to 
attend his family to the Trinity Monastery, he himself (it is a 
trait not quite in keeping with his usual spirit) living in the hills 
and forests, " in a tent under the rain and snow, with no other 
companion but his fire." l 

The Syrian Archdeacon gives us glimpses of the two men, 
both on festive and on solemn occasions. The Patriarch invites 
Alexis to a banquet. First came an interchange of magnificent 
> presents, " from the Czar to the Patriarch and from the Patriarch 
i to the Czar, flowing like the Black into the White Sea, and 
like the White into the Black Sea. 2 The Patriarch stood at the 
i top of the room, and the Czar went each time 3 to the door to 
bring in the presents with his own hands, with great fatigue, 
calling to the nobles to deliver them quickly, and he was like a 
waiting slave, wonderful to relate. . . . Afterwards the Patriarch 
bowed to him, and expatiated on his kindness, and seated him 
at a royal table in the corner of the room [the place of honour]. 
. . . The Czar, after the banquet, rose and filled cups of wine 
for all present, to the health of the Patriarch, which, as the 
company emptied them, they placed inverted on their heads, to 
show that they had drunk the health complete. In like manner 
the Patriarch filled cups for them all to the health of the Czar, 
and these, being emptied, they placed on their heads, kneeling 
before and after." 

Another picture is that of the two friends during the sermon. 
" What most excited our admiration was to see the Czar stand- 
ing with his head uncovered, whilst the Patriarch wore his 
crown before him ; the one with his hands crossed in humility, 
the other displaying them with the action and boldness of an 
orator addressing his auditor ; the one bowing his bare head in 
silence to the ground, the other bending his towards him with 
his crown upon it ; the one guarding his senses and breathing 
low, the other making his voice ring like a loud bell ; the one 
as if he were a slave, the other as his lord. . . . When the 
Patriarch had concluded his discourse with the prayer, he bowed 
to the Czar, and they stood back a second time." 4 

1 Macarius, ii. 49. 2 Ibid. ii. 232. 

3 Ibid. 231. 4 Ibid. ii. 59. 

340 The Patriarch Nicon 

It is from such scenes as these that Western, especially 
English, writers have represented Nicon, some from a favourable, 
some from an unfavourable, point of view, as an Eastern 
Hildebrand or Becket, maintaining the independence of the 
hierarchy against the civil power, and trampling the Imperial 
government under his feet. It is true that there were certain 
points in which questions of this kind were stirred, such as that 
of the new code, reducing to the civil courts cases which had 
once belonged to the Patriarchal courts, and restraining the 
accumulation of ecclesiastical property. It is true also that the 
devout, and in some respects childlike, or childish, disposition 
of Alexis placed him for a time under a kind of awe, inspired 
by the stern character and high office of Nicon, such as reminds 
us of our Saxon kings in the presence of Dunstan. " I fear," l 
he said, in answer to a deacon who entreated his permission to 
officiate against the orders of Nicon, " I fear the Patriarch 
Nicon, who would perhaps give me his crozier and say, ' Take it 
and tend the monks and priests yourself : I do not contradict 
you in your command of your favourites and troops ; why then 
do you set yourself against me in the concerns of priests and 

It is true also that his whole conduct, when he assumed the 
Patriarchal chair, was that of a man who was prepared for a 
vehement opposition. He had entered on his post immediately 
after his removal of the relics of Philip, the one martyr 2 of the 
Russian Church, to the cathedral of Moscow, by which, possibly 3 
(although of this there is no intimation), he may have meant to 
express his own anticipations for himself; and it was only after 
he had taken from the Prince and people a solemn promise of 
obedience to him, as their chief shepherd and spiritual father, 
that he consented to undertake the office. 

But the whole view taken of this scene, and of Nicon's 
character, by Russians themselves, and the whole tenor of the 
story which I am about to relate, forbid us to ascribe to Nicon 
any deliberate policy of opposition to the sovereign power of 
the State, such as that which has animated so many of the 
Popes, prelates, and clergy of the West. His fears on the 
occasion of his entrance on the Patriarchal see were not from 
his devoted friend Alexis, but from the adherents of his 
retrograde predecessor, the Patriarch Joseph, who had already 

1 Macarius, ii. 249. 2 See Lecture X. 

8 Palmer's Dissertations on the Orthodox Communion, p. 56. 

The Patriarch Nicon 341 

furiously denounced him as an innovator. 1 His enmity was 
with a barbarous nobility and ignorant clergy, not with the 
Czar ; and when at last it did reach the Czar also, the rupture 
took place on purely personal grounds. We hear enough of 
the civil and spiritual conflicts in Western Europe ; let us not 
thrust them into a story of a simple and natural quarrel 
between man and man, with which they have little or no 

The nobles watched their opportunity to separate the two 
friends. They found it in a protracted absence of the Czar on 
a two years' expedition to Poland, and in the failure of a Swedish 
campaign which Nicon had recommended. The Czar himself 
had had high words with the Patriarch once before in the church, 
from some unexpected rudeness. Every instance of insolence, 
and doubtless there were many, was eagerly exaggerated. 
Their intercourse ceased ; and, as the historian of the event 
observes, 2 when once a mutual misunderstanding is established 
between those who have once loved each other, the very 
recollection of their former friendship poisons the wounds of 
their hearts, because the change itself in their mutual relations 
is felt as a sort of wrong and offence by both. The nobles 
gained strength. Their code respecting the monastic property 
was reintroduced. One of them called his dog by the name of 
Nicon, taught it to sit up on its hind legs and to cross its paws 
in the offensive form of benediction which Nicon had in- 
troduced. 3 Another, in a grand procession, struck one of the 
Patriarch's courtiers. The Patriarch demanded satisfaction in 
vain. He waited for an interview with the Czar, at one of their 
accustomed meetings in church, on a high festival, 4 the loth 
of July. The Czar was kept away, and in his stead Nicon found 
one of the nobles come to announce his master's absence, and 
to reproach the Patriarch with his insolent pomp. 

Nicon felt that the crisis of his life was come, which he had 
forestalled in the promise of obedience exacted on his accession 
to the Patriarchal see. In a burst of wild indignation he came 
forth, after the completion of the service, from the sacred gates 
of the cathedral sanctuary, and, with that well-known voice 
which sounded like the mighty bell of the church through the 
whole building, announced that he was no longer Patriarch. 
" I leave my place," he said, " conscious of my many sins before 

1 Levesque, iv. 62. Compare Collins, p. 15: "He began to innovate 
some things, or rather reform them." 

2 MouraviefF, 218. 3 Levesque, iv. 75. 4 Bachmeister, 47. 

342 The Patriarch Nicon 

God, which have brought this plague and woe on Moscow." l 
He took from the Patriarchal throne the sacred staff of Peter 
the first Metropolitan, and laid it on the most venerable of the 
sacred pictures. He threw off his episcopal robes, wrote a 
hasty letter in the vestry to announce his intention to the Czar, 
and sate down on the raised platform 2 whence he had so often 
preached to the Czar and people, awaiting the answer. The 
answer never came ; it was intercepted by his enemies. Amidst 
the terrors and lamentations of the people, who tried to detain 
him by closing the doors of the cathedral, by taking the horses 
out of his carriage, by blocking up the gate of the town through 
which he was to pass, he went out on foot, 3 and returned no 
more to the Patriarchal Palace, wrote once again to the Czar, 
entreating his forgiveness for his sudden departure, and plunged 
into the solitude, first of one, and then another, of his various 

In a moment of uncontrollable anger he had made a sacrifice 
which he could not support. But his adversaries took him at 
his word. The see was declared vacant, and he, having 
returned from his more distant place of retirement to the one 
which was nearest to Moscow, remained there devouring his 
soul in the bitterness of a man who has made a false step, which 
he longs in vain to retrace. Let us follow him for a moment 
to the scene of these wild regrets. It is a scene eminently 
characteristic of the Russian Church. 

The last occasion on which he and Alexis had met in friendly 
intercourse was at the consecration of a small wooden church 
on one of the Patriarchal estates, about forty miles from Moscow. 
They were standing together on a rising ground which over- 
looked a tract of hills and undulating forest, presenting a 
variety of foliage rare in the monotony of Russian scenery ; 
when the Czar, who had to an unusual extent the Russian 
passion for imitation of sacred places, and had built in his palace 
and in his hunting-grounds two copies of the Holy Sepulchre, 
exclaimed, " What a site for a monastery ; what a beautiful place 
for a New Jerusalem ! " 4 Nicon caught at the thought. He 
had himself already made a new Athos of his island in the 

1 Bachmeister, 46. 

2 Or on the lowest step of the Patriarchal throne. (Bachmeister, p. 47, 
who tells the story somewhat differently.) 

3 He got through by waiting for the passage of some coaches. Bach- 
meister, 47. 

4 Bachmeister, 44 ; Mouravieff, 207. 

The Patriarch Nicon 343 

Valdai Lake. " Here," he said, " there shall be indeed a New 
Jerusalem. The church of the monastery shall be the church 
of the Holy Sepulchre ; the river which runs at our feet shall 
be the Jordan; the brook shall be the Kedron; the hill on 
which we stand shall be the Mount of Olives, the wooded mount 
beyond shall be Mount Tabor." Neither Alexis nor Nicon, 
with all their passion for imitation, could produce the slightest 
resemblance between the natural features of Muscovy and of 
Palestine. But Nicon did what he could for the building. His 
agents were still in the East collating manuscripts for a correct 
version of the Liturgy, and he charged them to bring back from 
Jerusalem an exact model of the church of the Holy Sepulchre. 
The result was the church of the " Resurrection" (Voskresensky), 
or, as it is more commonly called, of "the New Jerusalem," 
which still remains a monument of the friendship of Alexis and 
Nicon. Externally it has the aspect of an ordinary Russian 
cathedral, still further complicated by the addition of successive 
chapels built by, or in honour of, the various members of the 
Imperial family in after times, down to our own day. But 
internally it is so precisely of the same form and dimensions as 
the church at the actual Jerusalem, that, intricate as the arrange- 
ments of that church are, beyond probably any other in the 
world, a traveller who has seen the original can find his way 
without difficulty through every corridor, and stair, and corner 
of the copy ; and it possesses the further interest that, having 
been built before the recent alterations of the church in 
Palestine, it is in some respects (in five l particulars of consider- 
able importance) more like the old church in which the crusaders 
worshipped than is that church itself. It was, amongst all the 
architectural works of Nicon's Patriarchate, that on which his 
heart was most set. Throughout it bears his impress. In the 
sanctuary behind the screen still remains an indication of his 
magnificent schemes for the Russian Church. A vast array of 
seats rises, tier above tier, surmounted by the five Patriarchal 
thrones of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and 
Moscow, which Nicon in his days of power designed as the 
scene of a future General Council. A picture represents him 

1 i. There are no walls of partition such as since the fire of 1812 have 
been erected between the sects. 2. The dome is of larger proportions than 
that now existing, higher, and covered. 3. The entrance into the chapel of 
the Sepulchre from the antechapel has not been raised. 4. The chapels 
of the Sepulchre and of the Golgotha are without altars. 5. The irregular 
form of the rock by the Golgotha has not been smoothed away. 

344 The Patriarch Nicon 

surrounded by his disciples, amongst others the secretary 
Shuskerinoff seated at his feet, bending with eyeglasses over his 
manuscript, containing, as we may suppose, the annals of Russia, 
called, from his superintendence, the Chronicle of Nicon. 1 Still 
more characteristic is the square tower, the cell, or " skeet " 
(avKr)Trjpiov\ which he built for himself beyond the fancied 
Kedron, in the midst of the pale misty birchwood that climbs 
the slope behind the convent. His large black hat, his enormous 
clouted shoes, his rough sheepskin, 2 bring before us his huge 
figure in the costume and mariner of life he adopted when he 
exchanged the Patriarchate for the hermitage, when he fished 
in the river and assisted at the drainage of the marshes like a 
common peasant, and worked like a common stonemason in 
the erection of the convent church. It was what he had been 
of old in the monastic fortress by the Frozen Ocean ; it was 
what he kept before his mind even in his greatness of state at 
Moscow, by inviting from time to time to his table one of the 
wild enthusiasts already described in mediaeval Russia, who sate 
by his side, amidst the splendour of the Imperial banquet, in a 
state of absolute nudity. 3 

But neither the ideal nor the practice of solitary asceticism 
could enable Nicon to forget that he had been, that he was 
still, except by his own rash abdication, the Patriarch of 
Russia. He refused by any act or word to acknowledge a 
successor in the see. He caused a special office to be sung 
in the convent, in which, day by day, 4 were repeated the 
curses from the zogth Psalm. " I have not cursed the Czar," 
was his answer to the commissioner who came from Moscow 
to complain (the eager denial will show the contrast of his 
position and that of Hildebrand), " I have not cursed the Czar, 
but I have cursed you, the nobles 5 of the Church ; if you 
have a mind to stay and hear it, I will have the same office 
sung over again in your ears." For eight years the struggle 
continued. At last a singular event brought matters to a 
crisis. Nicon in his solitude received an urgent entreaty from 
one of the few nobles who remained friendly to him that he 
would come unexpectedly to Moscow, on the festival of Peter, 
the first Metropolitan, and invite the Czar to join him in the 
cathedral, according to his former custom, as if nothing had 
intervened. Meditating on this letter, yet not resolved, he 

1 Levesque, iv. 75, 2 Ibid. 

3 Macarius, ii. 266. 4 Levesque, iv. 77. 

5 The noble referred to was Borborikina. Levesque, iv. 79. 

The Patriarch Nicon 345 

retired for his three hours' rest * in his hermit's tower. At the 
top of the tower a stone recess in the wall is still shown, narrow 
and short, which Nicon used as his bed, and on which he 
must have found but scanty room to stretch out his gigantic 
limbs. It is a true Fakir's resting-place. On that stone bed 2 
he was sleeping, and he dreamed that he was once more in his 
own beloved cathedral, and one by one he saw rise from their 
graves the whole line of his predecessors in the Metropolitan 
see : Peter, whose wonder-working staff he had laid on the 
sacred picture ; Alexis, from the chapel hard by, the champion 
of Russia against the Tartars ; Philip, murdered by Ivan the 
Terrible ; Job, the blind old man who had vainly struggled 
against the false Demetrius ; Hermogenes, starved to death by 
the Polish invaders ; Philaret, grandfather of the Czar Alexis : 
one by one, at the call of the wonder-worker Jonah, they rose 
from the four corners, and from the array of tombs beside the 
painted walls, and took him by the hand, and raised him 
once more into his Patriarchal throne. He woke up and left 
his cramped couch. He returned by night to Moscow, on the 
eve of Peter's festival. At break of day he appeared publicly 
once more in the cathedral, grasped once more the staff of 
Peter, stood erect in the Patriarch's place, and sent to 
the Czar to announce his arrival, and to invite him to 
come to the church to receive his blessing, and to assist at 
the prayers. 

The Czar was taken by surprise. He sent to consult his 
nobles. To them it was a matter of life and death to pre- 
vent the interview. And they did prevent it. The Czar 
ordered him to return ; and Nicon, in the bitterness of his 
heart, obeyed the command and retired from the cathedral, 
bearing away with him the ancient staff, which at last (it is a 
significant action expressive of the meaning of the whole story) 
he surrendered to the Czar, and to no one but the Czar. 
Finally, feeling that he could hold out no longer, he consented 
to the election of a new Patriarch. 

The fall of Nicon was now inevitable. At the instigation of 
his enemies a Council of the Eastern Patriarchs was convened 
at Moscow; and thus it came to pass that the most august 
assembly of divines which Russia has ever witnessed, met for 
the condemnation of the greatest .man whom the Eastern 
hierarchy had produced in modern times. Its general acts will 

1 Levesque, iv. 75. 2 Mouravieff, 224. 


The Patriarch Nicon 

be best noticed hereafter. I confine myself here to the 
incidents characteristic of the present story. 

The trial was in the hall of Nicon's own palace. A picture 
of the Council of Nicsea, hung in the sacred corner of the 
room, still indicates, and probably then indicated, the purpose 
for which the hall was designed. Paisius of Alexandria and 
Macarius of Antioch, the same who had eight years before 
seen Nicon in his highest pomp, were here in person. Nicaea, 
Iconium, Sinai, were also represented; Georgia, Servia, 
Wallachia, besides the most distinguished of the hierarchy of 
the Russian Church itself. In front of these, still communicat- 
ing with them through an interpreter, 1 still claiming his rank 
as Patriarch, and refusing to sit as he could not seat himself on 
his Patriarchal chair, stood the exiled prelate. One last chance 
remained for him. Presiding in the council, as Constantine had 
presided at Nicaea, was the Czar himself. Now, for the first 
time for eight years, they stood again face to face. Between 
Nicon and his accusers all the fierceness of long-pent indignation 
was let loose. But between him and the Czar there was hardly 
anything but an outpouring of tenderness and affection. Tears 
flowed from the Czar's eyes as he read the accusation ; and the 
sight of his ancient friend standing, habited as if for a capital 
sentence, so moved his heart, that to the consternation of the 
nobles he descended from his throne, walked up to the Patriarch, 
took him by the hand, and burst forth into a plaintive entreaty : 
" Oh ! most holy father ! why hast thou put upon me such a 
reproach, preparing thyself for the Council as if for death ? 
Thinkest thou that I have forgotten all thy services to me 
and to my family during the plague, and our former friend- 
ship ? " Mutual remonstrances between the two friends led to 
recriminations between their attendants. "That, O religious 
Czar, is a lie," was the somewhat abrupt expression of one of 
Nicon's clerks, on hearing a false accusation brought against 
his master. 2 In the general silence produced either by the 
force of Nicon's replies or by the awful presence of the friendly 
Czar, 3 when Alexis turned round to see if some of the nobles 
had anything to urge, Nicon asked with his usual bitter irony : 
"Why do you not bid them take up stones? So they would 
soon put an end to me ; but not with words, though they should 
spend nine years more in collecting them." They parted never 
to meet again. 

1 Bachmeister, 86 ; Mouravieff, 227. 

2 Palmer's Orth. Communion, p. 63. 3 Levesque, iv. 78. 

The Patriarch Nicon 347 

Alexis could not bear to be present at his condemnation. 
The third and last meeting therefore of the Council was 
assembled in a small church, now destroyed, over the gates of 
one of the Kremlin convents. Nicon was degraded from his 
office to the rank of a simple monk, and banished for the rest 
of his life to do penance in a distant monastery. 

He maintained his proud sarcastic bearing to the end. 
" Why do you degrade me without the presence of the Czar, in 
this small church, and not in the cathedral where you once 
implored me to ascend the Patriarchal throne ? Take this," 
he said, offering to the Bishops a large pearl from the front of 
his white metropolitan cowl, which they took off with their own 
hands from his head; "it will help to support you under your 
oppressions in Turkey, but it will not last you long. Better 
stay at home there than go wandering about the world as 
mendicants." It was in the depth of a Russian winter, and the 
Czar sent him by one of the kindlier courtiers a present of 
money and sable furs for the journey to the far north. The 
impenetrable prelate sternly replied : " Take these back to him 
who sent them ; these are not what Nicon wants." The courtier 
entreated him not to affront the Czar by his refusal ; and also 
asked in the Czar's name for his forgiveness and blessing. 
"He loved not blessing," said Nicon, in allusion to the lOQth 
Psalm, in which he had before cursed all his enemies except 
the Czar, "and therefore it shall be far from him." To the 
nobles he shook off the dust of his feet ; and on one of them 
sweeping it up and saying (in allusion to the goods of the 
Church, which they now hoped to get) that this was just what 
they wanted, he pointed to the comet x then flaming in the sky, 
the " besom star," as it is called in Russ, and said, " God's 
besom shall sweep you all away." To the people, who, in 
spite of their prejudice against his reforms, flocked round him 
also for his blessing, he replied in a nobler and more Christian 
spirit, as" Philip had done before, this one word, " Pray." 2 
The sledge was at hand to carry him off, and he entered it 
with the episcopal staff and mantle which the Patriarchs, 8 for 
fear of the people, had not ventured to remove. A winter 
cloak was thrown over him by the pity of one of the more 
gentle of -the hierarchy. 4 With a dry irony he repeated to 
himself: "Ah, Nicon, Nicon! do not lose your friends. Do 

1 This striking story, with much else, I owe to the author of the Dis- 
sertations (so often quoted) on the Orthodox Communion. 

2 Palmer, 64. 8 Mouravieff, 232. 4 Ibid. 243 ; Palmer, 65. 

348 The Patriarch Nicon 

not say all that may be true. If you would only have given a 
few good dinners, and have dined with them in return, none 
of these things would have befallen you." Through the south 
gate of the Kremlin, to avoid the crowds collected on the north 
side in the expectation of seeing him pass, he was borne away, 
with the furious speed of Russian drivers, across the ancient 
bridge of the Mosqua, and rapidly out of sight of those proud 
towers of the Kremlin, 1 which had witnessed the striking 
vicissitudes of his glory and his fall. 

At evening, it is said, they halted in a house from which the 
occupants had been ejected. In the middle of the night, when 
Nicon and his attendants had been left to themselves in the 
piercing cold of their destitute condition, a trap-door in the 
floor of the room opened, an old woman came up, and asked 
which was the Patriarch Nicon. " I am he," said the fallen 
prelate. She fell at his feet, and solemnly assured him that 
she had seen in a dream the night before a very goodly man 
saying to her : " My servant Nicon is coming hither in great 
cold and need of all things. Now, therefore, give him what thou 
hast by thee for his needs." 2 In this way, so runs the story, 
which is curious as showing the impression produced on the 
popular mind by Nicon's career, he was protected against 
the severity of the rest of the journey, "till his arrival 3 at the 
monastery of Therapontoff, on the shores of the White Lake. 

Nine years passed away, and Nicon remained almost for- 
gotten in his remote prison, when a baseless rumour rose that 
he was with the insurgent army of Stenza Razia on the Eastern 
frontier. 4 Alexis, covertly or openly, sent presents and en- 
treaties for forgiveness. Nicon, at first stern as when he left 
Moscow, at last partially relented, in the hope of fulfilling the 
cherished wish of his heart, to die and be buried in his 
favourite monastery of the New Jerusalem, and of seeing once 
more his early and only friend. 5 But before any final recon- 
ciliation could be accomplished, Alexis was struck with a 
mortal illness. On his deathbed, he sent messengers once 
more to Nicon, conjuring him, even by all his former titles of 
Great Lord and Patriarch, to grant him full forgiveness. 
Verbally the forgiveness was at last sent. But Alexis was 
already passed away, 6 and when the tidings reached Nicon in 
his solitary cell, he groaned aloud and exclaimed: "The will 
of God be done ! What though he never saw me to make 

1 Palmer, 65. 2 Ibid. 65 ; Bachmeister, 109. 3 Mouravieff, 232. 
4 Ibid. 240. 5 Palmer, 66 ; Mouravieff, 244. 6 Palmer, 67. 

The Patriarch Nicon 349 

our farewell peace here, we shall meet and be judged together at 
the terrible coming of Christ." l 

Once more, on the removal of Alexis, darkness closed in 
upon the unfortunate exile. New accusations were invented 
against him ; he was removed to a farther monastery on the 
same lake, and imprisoned with still closer severity. 

At the close of three years his deliverance was effected by 
the means which, now that his beloved master was gone, he 
would -probably most have preferred for himself. The pre- 
ceptor of the young Czar Theodore, Simeon of Polotzky, was 
a mortk who had travelled in the West, and there, from a 
jumble of Latin theology and astrological divinations, con- 
ceived a wild scheme of creating four Patriarchal sees in the 
Russian Church, after the manner of those of the East, sur- 
mounted by one Papal throne, which he destined for the only 
man in Russia who was capable of filling it, the exiled but 
never forgotten Nicon. He worked on the mind of his royal 
pupil in one direction. Another older friend was the Princess 
Tatiana, sister of the late Czar, who had always remained 
faithful to Nicon, and one of whose works of devotion, an 
illuminated Gospel, is still shown in the treasury of the 
Convent of the New Jerusalem. To that beloved edifice 
still in the unfinished state in which its founder had left it 
she took her nephew, to visit the spot, and to receive from the 
monks a petition for the return of Nicon. The Czar laid it 
before the Patriarch Joachim, who for a time strongly resisted ; 
but hearing at last that Nicon was preparing for his latter end, 
his heart was touched and he consented. 

From this point the story cannot be better told than in the 
words of the Russian historian, whose narrative here, in its 
simplicity and pathos, forms a remarkable contrast to the 
turgid Orientalism by which, to our tastes, the general style is 
often disfigured. The whole story is full of that peculiar river 
scenery of Russia with which we were made familiar in the 
earlier stages of its history. 

" On the very same day on which the gracious permission of the 
Czar and the Patriarch arrived at the monastery of S. Cyril, Nicon, 
while it was yet very early, from a secret presentiment had 
prepared himself for the journey, and, to the astonishment of 
everybody, ordered the religious who were in personal attendance 
upon himself to hold themselves in readiness. With difficulty they 

1 Mouravieff, 243. 

350 The Patriarch Nicon 

placed the old man, now worn out with sickness and infirmity, in a 
sledge which took him by land to a barge on the river Sheksna, 
which he descended to the Volga. Here he was met by brethren 
from the monastery of the Resurrection, or New Jerusalem, who 
had been sent for that purpose. Nicon gave orders to drop down 
the Volga as far as the point where Yaroslaff [with its high bank 
crowned by monasteries] overlooks the river. Near one of these 
he put to shore, and received the communion of the sick, for he 
began to be exceedingly feeble. The Hegumen [or Prior] with all 
the brotherhood went out to meet him, accompanied by a former 
enemy of Nicon, the Archimandrite Sergius, the same that during 
his trial kept him under guard and covered him with reproaches, 
but had since been sent to this monastery in disgrace to perform 
penance. This Sergius, having fallen asleep in the refectory, at 
the very hour of the arrival of Nicon, saw in a dream the Patriarch 
appearing to him, and saying, ' Brother Sergius, arise ; let us 
forgive and take leave of each other ! ' when suddenly at that 
moment he was awakened and told that the Patriarch was actually 
approaching by the Volga, and that the brotherhood had already 
gone out to the bank to meet him. Sergius followed immediately, 
and, when he saw Nicon dying, he fell at his feet, and, shedding 
tears of repentance, asked and obtained his forgiveness. 

" Death had already begun to come upon the Patriarch by the 
time that the barge was moving down the stream. The citizens of 
Yaroslavla, hearing of his arrival, crowded to the river, and, seeing 
the old man lying on his couch all but dead, threw themselves 
down before him with tears, kissing his hands and his garments, 
and begging his blessing ; some towed the barge along the shore, 
others threw themselves into the water to assist them, and thus 
they drew it in and moored it against the monastery of the All- 
merciful Saviour. 

" The sufferer was already so exhausted that he could not speak, 
but only gave his hand to them all. The Czar's secretary ordered 
them to tow the barge to the other side of the river to avoid the 
crowds of the people. Nicon was on the point of death : suddenly 
he turned and looked about as if some one had come to call him, 
and then arranged his hair, beard, and dress for himself, as if in 
preparation for his last and longest journey. His confessor, to- 
gether with all the brethren standing round, read the commendatory 
prayers for the dying ; and the Patriarch, stretching himself out to 
his full length on the couch, and laying his arms crosswise upon 
his breast, gave one sigh, and departed from this world in peace. 
In the mean time the pious Czar Theodore, not knowing that he 
was dead, had sent his own carriage to meet him with a number of 
horses. When he was informed of it he shed tears, and asked 
what Nicon had desired respecting his last will. And when he 
learned that the departed prelate had chosen him as his godson to 
be his executor, and had confided everything to him, the good- 
Jiearted Czar replied, with emotion : * If it be so, and the Most 

The Patriarch Nicon 351 

Holy Patriarch Nicon has reposed all his confidence in me, the 
will of the Lord be done. I will not forget him.' He gave orders 
for conveying the body to the New Jerusalem." 1 

A picture in the convent represents the scene. Down 
from the hill, where Nicon and Alexis had stood when the 
name of "the New Jerusalem" was first suggested, the long 
procession descends towards the unfinished buildings of the 
monastery. The Czar walks immediately before the gigantic 
corpse, which, on its uncovered bier, is visible to the whole 
attendant crowd. So was Nicon borne to his last resting-place. 
It was in the spot which he had always designed for himself, 
in the "Chapel of Melchizedek," at the foot of "Golgotha," 
close by the spot where, in the actual church of the Holy 
Sepulchre, lie the remains of Godfrey of Bouillon. Over the 
tomb were suspended, and still remain, the heavy chains which 
he wore round his body in the rude hermitage. At his head is 
the small waxen picture which he carried about with him in 
all his wanderings. Amidst the copies of the sacred localities 
which surround the grave, it yet receives from the Russian 
pilgrims a share of devout enthusiasm, and awakes in the 
Western traveller an interest the more sincere, as being, amidst 
a crowd of artificial imitations, the only genuine reality. He 
rests, after his long vicissitudes, in the place which he had 
appointed for himself. He rests, all but canonised, in spite of 
his many faults, and in spite of his solemn condemnation and 
degradation by the nearest approach to a General Council 
which the Eastern Church has witnessed since the Second 
Council of Nicaea. He rests, far enough removed from the 
ideal of a saintly character, but yet having left behind him to 
his own Church the example, which it still so much needs, of 
a resolute, active, onward leader; to the world at large, the 
example, never without a touching lesson, of a rough reformer, 
recognised and honoured when honour and recognition are too 
late. He closes the whole epoch of Russian history of which 
he was the central figure. His life, as has been strikingly 
observed, extends itself over the whole period of the Russian 
Patriarchate, which was in fact the period of transition from 
the old Russia to the new ; and already there was born to the 
Imperial house that still greater Reformer, who in the next 
generation was to carry out more than all that Nicon in 
his highest dreams could have anticipated, if not for the 

1 Mouravieff, 246-249. 

352 The Patriarch Nicon 

Christianisation, at least for the civilisation, of the clergy and 
people of Russia. To describe the career of that Imperial 
Reformer, more fortunate than his ecclesiastical predecessor, to 
imagine what would have been the consequence had Peter 
found a Nicon, or had Nicon found a Peter, either as a rival 
or as an ally, will be our concluding task. 




1619. Philaret, Patriarch. 

1633. Joasaph /., Patriarch. 

1642. Joseph, Patriarch. 

1645. ALEXIS. 

1652. Nicon, Patriarch. 

1654. Plague. Building of the New Jerusalem. 

1658. Retirement of Nicon. 

1667. Deposition of Nicon. 
fbasaph 77, Patriarch. 

1673. Pitirim, Patriarch. 

1674. Joachim, Patriarch. 
1 68 1. Death of Nicon. 



It is needless to specify the works on the Life of Peter the Great. A 
catalogue of the chief of them will be found in the preface to the com- 
pendious Life of Peter the Great in the Family Library. The more special 
authorities for his ecclesiastical history are mentioned in the notes. 

I must, however, particularly notice the Russian documents translated in 
"The Present State and Regulations of the Church of Russia," by Henry 
Consett, chaplain at the British Factory, 1727. 

IF the history of the first Russian Reformer suffers from our 
ignorance, the same cannot be said of the second. If no one 
has heard of Nicon, every one has heard of Peter. Let us 
first briefly recall his general character and career, and then 
transplant him into the special field of history, that of the 
Eastern Church, with which we are too little accustomed to 
associate his name. 

I. Much as has been said and written of Peter the Great, 
yet there is a singularity in his position which always provokes 
afresh the curiosity of mankind. The second founder of the 
youngest born of European Empires, he gathers round himself 
all the romantic interest of a legendary hero, an Alfred or a 
Charlemagne ; yet he is known to us with all the exactness and 
fulness of recent knowledge. No prince of modern Europe is 
so familiar to almost every country in it, as Peter of Russia. 
He was, as no other prince has been, a guest of each. 
Holland, Sweden, Poland, Turkey, Prussia, Austria, Italy, 
knew him well by sight or hearing as he passed to and fro on 
his marvellous journeys. He is ours, too, in a special sense. 
All London was alive with expectation and excitement when 
his arrival in England was known. Every one was full of 
stories of the artifices by which the strange barbarian sought to 
evade the eagerness of our national curiosity to see the prodigy. 
He comes directly across the path of English ecclesiastical 
history in his long conversations with Bishop Burnet. He 
comes for a moment even across the path of our own academical 
history. " Last week," says Narcissus Luttrell, 1 " the Czar of 
Muscovy went privately to Oxford ; but, being soon discovered, 

1 Diary, iv. 368. This, I believe, is the only notice of his visit. For 
his general conduct in England, see Macaulay's Hist, of England, in this 
series, vol. iii. pp. 579-5 8 4' 

' 353 N 

354 Peter the Great and 

he immediately came back to London without viewing those 
curiosities he intended." An honorary degree was conferred 
upon him. 

Strongly, however, as we are riveted by this strange apparition 
in foreign lands, it is only in his own country that he stands 
before us in his full proportions. Look at him as he presents 
himself in the gallery of the portraits of the Czars. From Ivan 
the Terrible each follows each in grotesque barbaric costume, 
half Venetian, half Tartar, till suddenly, without the slightest 
preparation, Peter breaks in amongst them, in the full uniform 
of the European soldier. The ancient Czars vanish to appear 
no more, and Peter remains with us, occupying henceforward 
the whole horizon. Countenance, and stature, and manner, 
and pursuits are absolutely kept alive in our sight. We see 
the upturned look, the long black hair falling back from his 
fine forehead, the fierce eyes glancing from beneath the over- 
hanging brows, the mouth clothed with indomitable power. 
We gaze at his gigantic height, his wild rapid movements, the 
convulsive twitches of his face and hands, the tremendous 
walking-staff, 1 almost a crowbar of iron, which he swings to and 
fro as he walks, the huge Danish wolf-dog and its two little 
companions which run behind him. We are with him in his 
Dutch house amidst the rough pieces of wood which he has 
collected as curiosities, the tools, the lathe, the articles of wood 
and ivory that he has turned. No dead man so lives again in 
outward form before us, as Peter in St. Petersburg. But not 
in outward form only. That city represents to us his whole 
Herculean course, more actually Hercules-like than any of 
modern times, and proudly set forth in the famous statue 
erected by Catharine II. In front of the Isaak church, built to 
commemorate his birthday, in the midst of the great capital, 
which he called forth out of nothing, rises the huge granite 
block from Finland, up which he urges his horse, trampling 
the serpent of conspiracy under his feet, rearing over the edge 
of the precipice of the stupendous difficulty which he had 
surmounted, his hand stretched out towards the wide stream 
of the Neva, to which he looked for the regeneration of his 
country. Truly it is no exaggeration of what he attempted and 
achieved. Think of what Russia was as already described. 
Doubtless the two Ivans had done something ; doubtless, too, 
his father Alexis and the Patriarch Nicon had turned their 

1 The only relic of the old costume of the Czars. See Macarius, i. 381. 

the Modern Church of Russia 355 

thoughts southward and westward. But, taken as a whole, it 
was, with many noble elements, a wild Oriental people, ruled 
by a court wrapped round and round in Oriental ceremonial. 
What must the man have been, who, born and bred in this 
atmosphere, conceived, and by one tremendous wrench, almost 
by his own manual labour and his own sole gigantic strength, 
executed the prodigious idea of dragging the nation, against its 
will, into the light of Europe, and erecting a new capital and a 
new empire amongst the cities and the kingdoms of the world ! 
St. Petersburg is indeed his most enduring monument. A spot 
up to that time without a single association, selected instead of 
the holy city to which even now every Russian turns as to his 
mother ; a site which, but a few years before, had belonged to 
his most inveterate enemies ; won from morass and forest, with 
difficulty defended, and perhaps even yet doomed to fall 1 
before the inundations of its own river ; and now, though still 
Asiatic beyond any capital of the West, yet in grandeur and 
magnificence, in the total subjugation of nature to art, entirely 
European. And the change from Moscow to St. Petersburg is 
but a symbol of the revolution effected in the whole Empire by 
the power of Peter. For better, for worse, he created army, 
navy, law, dress, amusements, alphabet, some in part, some 
altogether, anew. Much that was superficial, much that was 
false, much that broke out under his successors into frightful 
corruption and depravity, at least of the higher classes, came in 
with the Western changes. But whatever hopes for the world or 
the Church are bound up with the civilisation of the West, did 
penetrate into Russia through Peter and through no one else. 

So unlike the rest of his dynasty Philaret, the founder of 
the house, a reverend ecclesiastic ; Michael, Alexis, Theodore, 
yielding and gentle princes suddenly appears this man, 
bursting with brutal passions, as if all the extravagances of the 
family had been pent up to break forth in him. And yet in 
this savage, drunken and licentious, the victim of ungovernable 
fury, arose this burning desire for civilisation. His very 
violence was turned to promote his end. Literally, not 
metaphorically, by blows, by kicks, by cuffs, he goaded his 
unwilling people forward. 2 Russia, as the Russian poet sings 

1 "Up to this point the floods have come," said an attendant, showing 
the mark on a tree by the river bank. "Give me a hatchet," said the 
angry Czar, and cut down the tree at a blow. 

2 Many of the expressions here used I owe to conversation with in- 
telligent Russians. 


Peter the Great and 

was the hard anvil, and Peter was its terrible hammer. But 
the strangest, the most affecting, part of his career is this, that 
what he required from others he laboured to acquire for himself. 
In the solitude of barbarism in which he was placed, he knew 
that by his own mind, by his own hands, if at all, his country 
was to be changed. As filthy in his habits as any Russian 
serf of the present day, to whom every European comfort is 
distasteful, he yet was able to endure the splendour of Paris 
and London, and, what is more astonishing, the cleanliness of 
Holland. Possessing in a remarkable degree the turn for 
mechanical pursuits, of which trophies are preserved in 
every part of his dominions, he yet, with a largeness of mind 
very rarely found in company with such pursuits (contrast the 
unfortunate Louis XVI.), used them all for reconstructing the 
fabric of his Empire. " He is mechanically turned," was 
Bishop Burnet's observation of him, "and seems to be designed 
by nature rather for a ship carpenter than a great prince." 
But the Bishop was mistaken ; and the remarkable point of 
Peter's career is that he was both. 

One instance may suffice to remind us of the difficulties 
which he had to overcome alike in himself and in his Empire. 

Inheriting apparently it was all that he did inherit from 
his family the unhappy tendency to cataleptic fits, he was 
specially subject to them from his earliest years whenever he 
came in sight of water, in consequence of a fright which he 
had had when, at the age of five, he was suddenly wakened 
from sleep by the sound of a cascade in the river Yaousa. 1 
In spite of this, in spite of all other obstacles presented by the 
inland character of his enormous Empire, he determined to 
render himself a sailor and his country a maritime power. He 
overcame his own infirmity by incessant efforts, first on the 
little stream of the Mosqua, then on the wide lake of Pereslav, 
then by serving as a ship-boy on board a Dutch vessel ; till 
finally the water which had been his early terror became his 
natural element. The new capital on the Neva was to be built 
without bridges, 2 that he and his people might be always on 
its waters, passing and repassing. The boat 3 which he first 
built remains still, " The Little Grandsire," to which once a 
year the Russian navy does homage. " My ships," he said, 

1 Stahlin, 84. For the details of this hydrophobis, see Strahlenberg's 
Description of Russia, 273, 274. 

2 Stahlin, 84. 

8 Its history is given in a tract translated by Consett, 206. 

the Modern Church of Russia 357 

'' shall make ports for themselves." J His own life is rilled 
with anecdotes of hairbreadth escapes by water. In the storm 
in the Gulf of Finland, he reassured the terrified sailors : 
"Never fear! Who ever heard of a Czar being lost 2 at 
sea ? " On another like occasion he rebuked the ambassador 
who asked what account could be rendered to his master if he 
were shipwrecked : " Make yourself easy ; if we go down we 
shall all go down together, and there will be no one to answer 
for your Excellency." His last illness was fatally aggravated 
by the generous rashness with which, on a raw winter day, he 
dashed into the water to save a distressed crew. 

I dwell on these general traits of Peter's character and career, 
partly because we cannot understand his ecclesiastical changes 
without taking into account the aspect of the whole man, partly 
because there is something in the exhibition of such persever- 
ance and resolution, which is in itself a part of that higher history 
of the Church of which we ought never to lose sight. I make 
no apologies for what have been only too truly called his 
Samoyedic excesses. But in considering this gross licentious- 
ness we must remember the strong temptations of his early 
education ; and in considering his brutal violence of temper, 
action, and language, the same excuses which have been 
offered for the violence of other reformers, of higher religious 
pretensions, must also be in some degree accepted for Peter. 
" I know well my faults, my bursts of passion, and therefore 
it is that I wish to have those near me like my Catharine, 
who will warn and correct me. 3 I can reform my people; 
I cannot reform myself." So he exclaimed in the penitent 
mood which followed one of his frenzies of lawless rage. 
There are many who would not have felt, much less expressed, 
the thought. Drinking, the fatal vice which, as we have seen, 
Vladimir I. had declared to be the indispensable privilege of a 
Russian Prince, Peter did, it is said, by the effort of his later 
years entirely abandon. A wild sense of justice and truth ran 
through even his most grotesque extravagances. 

II. But the question still remains, what was the true rela- 
tion of the Eastern Church to this extraordinary man ? 

It is striking to reflect that not only at the close of his career, 
when, in the fulsome style of Oriental eulogy, he is celebrated 
as the Japheth, Samson, Moses, David, Solomon, of Russia, 4 
but in his earliest years, the Russian Church seems to have 

1 Stahlin, 84. 2 Ibid. 110. 3 Ibid. 83. 

4 Oration of Theophanes ; Consett's State of Russia, pp. 280-282. 


Peter the Great and 

claimed him as her own ; and the first recollections of his 
dangers and deliverances were associated with the chief 
sanctuary of his country. The Troitza Monastery, which has 
twice before figured as turning the fate of Russia, was the 
refuge of Peter, when still a boy of twelve years old, with his 
mother Natalia, from the fury of the Strelitzes. She was 
permitted to conceal herself, not only within the precincts of the 
convent, not only within the walls of the principal church, but 
behind the sacred screen, beside the altar itself, where, by the 
rules of the Eastern Church, no woman's foot is allowed to 
enter. That altar (still remaining on the same spot) stood 
between the past and the future destinies of Russia. On one 
side of it crouched the mother and her son ; on the other the 
fierce soldiers were waving their swords over the head of the 
Imperial child. " Comrade, not before the altar ! " exclaimed 
the more pious or the more merciful J of the two assassins. At 
that moment a troop of faithful cavalry galloped into the 
courtyard, and Peter was saved. In the seclusion of that 
same military convent, it is said, he first learned his taste for 
soldiering. The tower is still shown where he shot the ducks 
in the neighbouring stream. The ivory ball which he turned, 
to employ the vacant hours of his retirement, still hangs in the 

Many, no doubt, and rude were the shocks sustained, both 
by Peter's orthodoxy and by the Church's loyalty ; but neither 
entirely failed. As we read the account of his contact with 
the different forms of European religion, we seem to be 
reading again the story of his ancestor Vladimir. There was 
the same inquiry on his side ; the same solicitations on the 
other side. Everywhere on his journeys through Europe he 
did for himself what Vladimir had done by his envoys ; heard 
the doctrines and attended the worship of the countries 
through which he passed. He learned the condition of our 
own Church in his walks over London with Bishop Burnet, 
and his dinner at Lambeth with Archbishop Tenison. He 
witnessed an ordination, and expressed his approval of 
the service. He received, like^ his descendants, a Quaker 

1 It is said that the recollection of that moment was the cause of his 
convulsions (Stahlin, 32), and that twenty years afterwards he recognised 
this soldier, though disguised in a seaman's dress, and started back with an 
instinct of horror. He forgave him, but forbade him ever again to appear 
in his presence (Stahlin, 26), as not daring to trust himself to look at the 
man who had once so filled him with terror. 

the Modern Church of Russia 359 

deputation, and attended a Quaker meeting. He listened with 
profound attention to a Lutheran sermon 1 at Dantzic. He 
dashed in pieces the drinking-cup of Luther at Wittemberg, 
in vexation at not being allowed to carry away the memorial ; 
and observed that his monument 2 in the church was not too 
splendid for so great a man. He ordered Dutch translations 
of the Bible, and loaded, it is said, two vessels with works of 
Dutch theology to enlighten his Russian subjects. A messen- 
ger was despatched to Rome to learn the state of religion 
in the Latin Church. He stood in motionless admiration 
before the tomb of Cardinal Richelieu. And, on the other 
hand, he was, like Vladimir, the mark for all the proselytisers 
and ecclesiastical agitators of the West. The Pope was in 
high expectation 3 of his arrival to effect a union between the 
Greek and Latin Churches. The Gallican Church represented 
its claims through a memorial of the doctors of the Sorbonne. 
The Scottish Episcopalians 4 and Anglican Nonjurors tried to 
secure through him an alliance of the Eastern Church, as a 
prop to their forlorn condition. Even his unhappy son Alexis 
became the subject of constant rumours from expectants on 
this side and that. " Foreign letters advise from Vienna that 
the Pope was in great hopes the hereditary Prince of Muscovy 
may be persuaded to turn Papist." 5 (June, 1710.) "Letters 
from Dresden say that the hereditary Prince of Muscovy 
hath lately received communion there in a Lutheran church." 6 
(Oct. 1710.) 

What Peter might have been, had he lived earlier or later, 
it is useless to guess. But, in fact, he still remained at 
heart a Prince of the Orthodox Church. In this respect 
Burnet's observation was correct, at least as regarded matters 
of faith. "He was desirous to understand our doctrine, but 
he did not seem disposed to mend matters in Muscovy." He 
observed' the chief Eastern fasts. 7 The blade of the sword 
which he wore at Pultowa is inscribed with a prayer, 8 and 
has carved upon it the figure of S. George. In his battles 
he carried about always one of the sacred pictures from 
the Trinity Convent. He consecrated his new capital by 

1 See the story in Stahlin, 12, 80. 

" Stahlin, 41 ; see also Life of Peter, p. 273. . 

3 St. Simon's Memoirs, vol. xv. 

4 Lathbury, History of the Nonjurors, ch. viii. 

6 Luttrell's Diary, vi. 591. 6 Ibid. 648. 

7 Stahlin, 109. 8 It is preserved in the museum at Pesth. 


Peter the Great and 

transferring thither the remains of the sainted Prince, Alexander 
of the Neva, who had illustrated that river by his exploits 
centuries before its great destinies were unfolded. His motto 
in his wars was, " For the Faith and the Faithful." l He had 
heard much of freethinkers at Amsterdam, but he treated 
their doings as mere impostures; and in the true spirit of 
a Russian believer added : " They despise the Fathers of the 
Councils, but the least of those Fathers was better and wiser 
than they." 2 

We see signs also of more than a mere ceremonial religion. 
It was said that he knew the Epistles of S. Paul by heart. 3 
His journal contains many grateful acknowledgments of the 
good Providence which so often had preserved him, and in- 
structed him even by misfortunes. 4 He strictly prohibited 
talking in church, and working on Sunday, as marks of 
irreverence. " He who forgets God," he said, " works to no 
purpose." 5 In the small wooden house where he lived to 
watch the erection of his capital, one of the three rooms was 
marked out for his devotions, and now, fitted up as a small 
chapel, and daily crowded with worshippers, is a monument 
at once of his own sincere faith, and of the religious associa- 
tions with which his mere name is connected by the people. 
At Saardam, in like manner, a small closet in the loft of his 
wooden cabin answered the same purpose; and it is a 
touching incident in his life, that when he revisited Amster- 
dam after an interval of twenty years, during which he had 
carried out almost all the great designs then still in the 
future, he was deeply affected on entering the cottage at 
Saardam, and climbing up into the loft 6 remained there 
alone a full half-hour, doubtless in devotion as before. 7 His 
strong common sense and his genuine love of truth showed 
themselves, not in defiance of his religious feelings, but in 
unison with them. "Ora et labora" was the quotation with 
which he wound up his address to his senators. 8 And when 
in a dangerous illness his life was despaired of, and he was 
asked, according to an ancient usage in such cases, to propi- 
tiate the Divine mercy by the pardon of criminals condemned 

1 Gabriel. (Consett's State of Russia,' 395.) 

2 Stahlin, 54. 3 Theophanes. (Consett, 325.) 

4 Journal de Pierre le Grand, p. 30 ; Narva (239), Pultowa (270), 
Vibourg (295), Pruth (377), Pecklin (438), Revel (481), Petersburg (491). 

5 Stahlin, 79. 6 The loft is now blocked up. 
7 Life of Peter, 240. 8 Ibid. 268. 

the Modern Church of Russia 361 

to death, who would then pray for his recovery, he heard the 
charges against them, and then, in what was thought to be 
his death-agony, replied : " Do you think that by arresting 
the course of justice I shall be doing a good action, for which 
my life will be prolonged? or that God will listen to the 
prayers of wretches who have forgotten Him? Carry out 
the sentence ; and, if anything will procure from Heaven the 
gift of my health and life, I trust that it will be this act of 
justice." l 

His actual deathbed, as described by his two chief eccle- 
siastical friends, Theophanes 2 Procopovitch archbishop of 
Plescow, and Gabriel archimandrite of the Trinity Convent, 
is a curious summary of the conflict of the religious experi- 
ences of his life. One of the clergy, apparently Theophanes 

" made mention of the death of Christ and of the Divine blessings 
procured by it, and admonished the Emperor that now the time was 
come for him to think of nothing else ; that he should for his own 
support meditate on that which he had frequently inculcated to 
others. 3 On this he sprang up and endeavoured to raise himself ; 
and being raised a little by his attendants, with eyes and hands 
lifted as high as he could, though faltering in his speech, he broke 
out into these words : ' This it is which at length can quench my 
thirst ; this alone which can refresh me.' Just before the admoni- 
tion he had moistened his mouth with julep (as he was obliged to 
do very often), and by way of allusion he uttered these words, and 
again and again repeated them. The Monitor further exhorting him 
that he should, without any diffidence, confide in the mercy of God, 
that he should believe his sins to be forgiven through the merits of 
Christ, and that the grace of eternal life was near at hand, to this he 
redoubled his reply, 4 I believe and I trust.' And when the Monitor 
exhorted him to a prayer of faith, and produced those words which 
they recite who with us come to the Lord's Supper, ' I believe, Lord, 
now, and confess that Thou art the Son of the living God, who 
earnest into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,' he 

1 Stahlin, 2. A similar trait is given in Hermann's Geschichte, 
iv. 85. 

2 The two statements in the funeral orations of Theophanes and Gabriel 
are given in Consett's Regulations, 261, 360. They contain, no doubt, 
much of mere eulogy, but still they represent the contemporary feeling 
about the dying Emperor. 

3 This appears to be said 'partly in allusion to Peter's habit of dwelling, 
in common discourse (as it would seem), on the Lutheran doctrine of 
justification. " He many times copiously and learnedly discussed the 
question concerning the justification of a sinner through Christ grafts." 
Consdt, 260. 

N 2 


Peter the Great and 

added, ( I believe, 1 Lord, and confess ; I believe, Lord, help Thou 
mine unbelief.' Shortly after he seemed to be sinking. Crowds 
of officers and people entered the room, and with tears and howlings 
kissed his hand. He lay awhile speechless, saluting every one with 
his looks ; then with great difficulty said, ' Hereafter! Whether 
by this word he would have a vacant space to himself, free from 
molestation (for his little apartment was thronged with people), or 
he spoke of the time after death, is doubtful. So all retired. He 
continued fifteen hours afterwards in great agony, beating his side 
with his right hand (his left was palsied) ; yet whenever the Monitor 
spoke to him concerning the vanity of the world, or concerning 
heaven, or concerning the death of Christ, he would make effort to 
raise himself up, to sign the cross with his hand, or to lift it to 
heaven. ... He tried also to moderate his groans into accents of 
praise, and to cheer up his countenance, and would have embraced 
his Monitor. Finally, he received the Sacrament a second time 
from Gabriel, and soon after expired." 

This was the general position of Peter towards the ancient 
Eastern religion, in which he had been born and bred. 
Something is due to a form of the Christian faith which 
kept its hold on such a wild ungovernable man in such an 
age. To have traversed so many foreign lands, and watched 
so many foreign faiths, and yet still to have retained his own 
traditionary belief, may be fairly ascribed to the strength 
inherent in that belief. And it must have been a happy 
circumstance, that, owing to the ancient Eastern recognition 
of something like the principles of toleration, 2 Peter approached 
them from a point of view unlike that which was familiar to 
the other contemporary sovereigns. To Louis XIV. those 
principles were odious, and to Frederick II. welcome, because 
to both of those princes they seemed to be irreligious. But 
to Peter they were little more than legitimate conclusions from 
the traditions of his own Church. 

III. Nevertheless, though he maintained his ground as a 
faithful son of the Orthodox Church generally, the most in- 
structive portion of his ecclesiastical career is the remarkable 
contest which, like Nicon, he maintained with one section of 
it, and which led to the results now to be described. 

The year 1700, the first year of the eighteenth century, 

1 It is characteristic both of Peter and of his people, perplexed between 
his religion and his innovations, that the popular tradition of his last words 
is this expression slightly altered, " My God, I am dying ! help thou mine 
unbelief. " 

2 See Lecture I. p. 81. 

the Modern Church of Russia 363 

which was marked by his adoption of the European calendar, 
may also be called the year of the Russian Reformation, the 
boundary between old and new Russia, as in civil, so in eccle- 
siastical matters also. The substitution of St. Petersburg for 
Moscow was the sign that in both these spheres he had set 
his face, not Eastward, but Westward. As the ancient Pagan 
associations of Rome drove the first Christian Emperor of the 
West to Constantinople, 1 so the ancient Oriental associations 
of Moscow drove the first Reforming Emperor of the East 
to the Baltic. It is true that the reformation set on foot by 
Peter, like that set on foot by Nicon, was strictly in accord- 
ance with the national spirit. It was a revolution not of 
doctrines and ideas, but of customs, institutions, habits. But 
in this respect it went deeper than the attempts of Nicon, 
conducted as it was by a stronger hand, under more favourable 
auspices, and therefore with far more success. "We should 
be guilty, " he said, " of ingratitude to the Most High, if, after 
having reformed by His gracious assistance the civil and 
military order, we were to neglect the spiritual; and if the 
Impartial Judge should require of us an account of the vast 
trust which He hath reposed in us, we should not be able to 
give an answer." 2 Increase of schools, restrictions on the 
growth of monasteries, and regulations respecting the monastic 
property, were amongst the chief practical measures by which 
the change was carried out. The main constitutional alter- 
ation was that which consisted in the abolition of the office 
of Patriarch, 3 and the substitution of a Synod consisting of 
prelates, presided over by the Emperor or his secretary. We 
need not go through the steps by which this was carried out, 
the long interval by which he accustomed the people to see 
the chair vacant, and the savage buffoonery with which he 
afterwards held up the office to ridicule. But it is important 
to observe that here, as in the story of Nicon, we must avoid 
introducing Western ideas of the collision of Church and 
State into a measure which can only be properly understood 
from the Oriental point of view. The power of the Czar, or 
Emperor, as he was now called, was hardly altered by the 
change. Peter was as much or as little the head of the 
Church as his predecessors had been before him. 4 He had, 

1 See Lecture VI. 

2 Preface to Spiritual Regulations, Consett, 2.. s Stahlin, 87. 

4 See the Spiritual Regulations, part i. (Consett's Present State of the 
Russian Church.) 


Peter the Great and 

it is true, removed out of his pathway the possibility of a 
powerful rival in the State, and in a moment of passion, when 
asked to restore the office, he exclaimed, as is well known, 
" I am your Patriarch," and then, throwing down his hunting- 
knife on the table, "There is your Patriarch." But these 
were expressions which might have been used by Vladimir 
or Ivan, and the office was abolished in fact, not so much 
because he feared the ecclesiastical power, as because he was 
enraged by the retrograde obstinacy of Adrian, the last 
Patriarch, because he desired to sweep away the world of 
barbaric ceremonial with which the Patriarchal throne was 
surrounded, and because he wished to carry out, here as 
elsewhere, the principle of substituting colleges or bodies of 
men for the rule of individuals. 1 The institution which thus 
perished was hardly more than a century old, and its destruc- 
tion was planned and approved not only by Peter himself, 
but by his two powerful ecclesiastical supporters, Theophanes 
archbishop of Plescow, and Demetrius of Rostoff, and sanc- 
tioned by the whole body of Eastern Patriarchs. Before the 
final abolition, the question of its continuance was long kept 
open. Stephen Yavorsky, the leader of the more conservative 
party in the clergy, was appointed its guardian ; and on 
Stephen proposing to the Emperor that the Patriarchal chair 
should either be removed from the cathedral at Moscow or 
else receive an occupant, he replied : " This chair is not for 
Stephen to sit in, or for Peter to break." 2 

But there was a series of reforms to Eastern feelings more 
irritating than the suspension or destruction of the Patri- 
archate. There was a party in the Russian Church which 
had been exasperated to the verge of endurance by the inno- 
vations of the Patriarch Nicon, and it was this same party 
which was now exasperated beyond endurance by the innova- 
tions of Peter. What Nicon had begun by introducing new 
customs from the South, Peter, it seemed, was about to finish 
by introducing new customs from the West. Even more re- 
markable than the direct parallels to the movement of the 
European Reformation are the similarity and dissimilarity of 
the indirect results produced by Luther and Henry VIII. in 
the West, and by Nicon and Peter in the East. We are 
sometimes accustomed to think of the ancient Eastern Church, 

1 Spiritual Regulations, Consett, 13-16. 

2 This I owe to the author of the "Dissertations on the Orthodox 

the Modern Church of Russia 365 

and of the Russian Church, as free from the Western evils of 
division and dissent. This is not the case. We have already 
seen that there are outside the Eastern Orthodox Church vast 
schismatical communities exactly analogous to those in the 
West, but differing in this most characteristic respect, that, 
whereas our Reformation rent away sects and nations because 
the established Churches of Europe would not change enough, 
the Eastern sects have arisen because the established Churches 
of Asia have changed too much. Such to a considerable 
extent are the Chaldeans, Syrians, and Copts, in relation to 
the Church of Constantinople ;; to them the Councils of 
Chalcedon and of Ephesus respectively present the stumbling- 
blocks which Protestants find in the Council of Trent. But 
such in the most remarkable degree are " the Separatists " 
"the Rascolniks," as they are called of the Church of 
Russia. 1 Under that form indeed are included many wild 
sects which probably date much farther back than the seven- 
teenth century, relics of ancient heathenism in the uncon- 
verted aboriginal tribes, or of the Gnostic and Manichaean 
tendencies of the East, or of the secret Judaising conspiracy 
which was repressed by Ivan III. But these, however curious 
in themselves, have no special bearing on the national history 
of the Russian Church, nor do they constitute the importance 
of the Separatist body. The real force, the permanent in- 
terest, of the Rascolniks lies in the eight millions of souls 
who call themselves Starovers ; that is, "the Old Believers." 
They claim to be the one true Orthodox Church of Russia. 
The ancient wandering state of the Russian peasants is to 
them the mark of true Christianity. Passports are the marks 
of the Beast. 2 Huge bonfires are lit to burn any that they 
can lay hold of. They are Dissenters, but on the most con- 
servative principles which it is possible to conceive. They 
are Protestants, but against all reform. They are Nonjurors 
and Puritans both in one. They use the Apocalypse as freely 
as it is sometimes used amongst ourselves, but against, not 
in favour of, change. They regard the Established Church 
as Babylon, themselves as the Woman who fled into the 

1 My information is chiefly derived from what I heard on the spot, and 
from Haxthausen's work on Russia. There is an interesting article on 
this subject in the "Revue des Deux Mondes," xv. 609, based on two 
romances by Soltikoff, and an official report presented to the Emperor in 

2 Revue des Deux Mondes, xv. 621. 

366 Peter the Great and 

wilderness, Nicon as the False Prophet, the Emperor as the 
Great Dragon, Peter as Antichrist himself. Their converts 
from the Established Church are solemnly rebaptised. With 
every particularity of detail these converts are required to 
abjure the Niconian heresy ; to throw into the street the dust 
of the room where any Niconians may have sat; never to 
eat of the same dish, nor to bathe in the same bath, with 
them. 1 Even the universal salutation of the Russian Easter 
has no binding force for them: "Christ is risen." "Yes," 
they repeat, with a contemptuous smile, " our Christ is risen, 
but not yours." 2 

And what are the grounds of this Eastern nonconformity ? 
They are grounds which all Western Churches would do well 
to hear Rome or Geneva, England or Scotland, Conformists 
or Nonconformists, Free Church or Established Church 
grounds almost equally instructive whether we recognise in 
them our own likenesses or our own antipodes. It was deemed 
a mortal sin in the established clergy that they gave the 
benediction with three ringers instead of two. 3 Ecclesiastical 
history was ingeniously pressed into the service, and the true 
cause of the separation of the Latin from the Eastern Church 
was alleged to have been, that Pope Formosus had introduced 
into the world the impious and heretical doctrine of the three 
fingers ; in consequence of which he had been condemned as 
a heretic, his body disinterred after death, and the offending 
fingers cut off, by his more orthodox successor. 4 Their form 
of the cross has three transverse beams instead of the Greek 
two or the Latin one. 5 It was a mortal sin to say the name 
of Jesus in two syllables instead of three, 6 or to repeat the 
Hallelujah thrice instead of once. The course of the sun 
pointed out beyond doubt that all processions are to go from 
left to right, and not from right to left. 7 It was an innovation 
of the most alarming kind to read or write a word of modern 8 
Russ, to use the service books of which the errors have been 
corrected by collation with the original copies, or to use the 
revision by which the Authorised Version has been purified 

1 Strahl. 298, 343. 2 Ibid. 330. 3 Ibid. 303. 

4 Haxthausen, i. 323. For the true story see Robertson's Church History, 

ii. 385- 

5 Strahl. 304. . 6 Ibid, 304. 

7 Ibid. 253, 303. These practices (probably Armenian) date from the 
twelfth century. 

8 Haxthausen, i. 208. 

the Modern Church of Russia 367 

from the mistakes produced through time or ignorance. It 
was an act of unpardonable rashness to erase the word "holy," 
which had thus crept into the clause of the Nicene Creed 
which speaks of the Giver of Life, or the interpolation which 
caused them to speak in their baptismal service of "one 
baptism by fire for the remission of sins." 1 In defence of this 
corruption of the text whole villages of these " Fire-Baptists " 
have been known to commit themselves to the flames. It is 
probably (with the exception of the somewhat similar founda- 
tion of the practice of Suttee 2 in India) the most signal instance 
of martyrdom in the cause, not even of a corrupt practice or 
a corrupt doctrine, but of a corrupt reading. 

These were the main charges against Nicon. But there 
were others still greater against Peter. It was a mortal sin to 
introduce into the churches pictures by Western artists. All 
that Raphael or Correggio ever painted are abominations in 
the e~yes of an ancient Russ. It is a mortal sin to hear the 
services chanted in the sweet notes which were brought by 
Nicon from Greece, improved by Peter from Germany, per- 
fected by Catharine II. from Italy. It is a departure from 
every sound principle of Church and State to smoke tobacco. 
The ancient Czars and Patriarchs had forbidden it, under pain 
of tearing out the offending nostrils. Peter for that very 
reason, and for commercial reasons also, tried to force the 
abhorred article ' on the now reluctant nation, and asked 
whether the smoking of tobacco was more wicked than the 
drinking of brandy. " Yes," was the deliberate answer, reach- 
ing perhaps the highest point of misquotation that the annals 
of theological perverseness present ; "for it has been said that 
1 not that which goeth into a man, but that which cometh out 
of a man denleth him.' " It is, or was till very recently, a mark 
of heresy to eat" the new unheard-of food of the potato, for 
that accursed "apple of the earth" is the very apple of the 
Devil, which was the forbidden fruit of Paradise. 

Up to this time the year had always begun on the ist of 
September, and been dated from the creation of the world. 
The Emperor, on the opening of the eighteenth century, con- 
ceived the daring design of giving to Russia the ist of January 
as its New Year's Day, and the nativity of Christ as the era 
of its chronology. Was not this the very sign of Antichrist, 

1 Strahl. 285. 

2 See an interesting account of this corrupt reading of the Veda in 
Professor Max Muller's Essay on Comparative Mythology, p. 23. 


Peter the Great and 

that he should change the times and seasons ? Could there 
be anything so impious as the assertion that the world was 
created in January, when the ground -was covered with snow, 
not on S. Simon's day, 1 in September, when the corn and the 
fruits were ripe ? Did the Czar think that he could change the 
course of the sun? Most serious, however, of all Peter's 
changes, was the endeavour to assimilate his countrymen to 
the West by forbidding the use of the beard. The beard was 
indeed one of the fundamental characteristics of the ancient 
Eastern faith. Michael Cerularius had laid it down in the 
eleventh century as one of the primary differences between the 
Greek and Latin Churches. "To shave the beard" was pro- 
nounced at the Council of Moscow in the seventeenth century, 
" a sin which even the blood of martyrs could not expiate." 2 
It was defended, it is still defended, by texts of Scripture, by 
grave precedents, by ecclesiastical history. " The Levitical 
law commands us not to cut the hair or the beard." " Man 
was made in the image of God : is the image of God to be 
defaced ? " (l The sacred pictures represent our Saviour 
bearded." "But S. George,' 7 it may be said, "has no beard." 
"Yes, but S. George was a soldier, and probably shaved in 
obedience to his commanding officer." Even Peter, with all 
his energy, quailed before the determined opposition. The 
nobles and the gentry, after a vain struggle, gave way and were 
shaved. But the clergy and the peasantry were too strong for 
him. Flowing locks and magnificent beards are still, 3 even in 
the Established Church, the distinguishing glory of the clerical 
order. To the peasants a compromise was permitted. Many 
when compelled to shave yet kept their beards to be buried 
with them, fearing lest without them they should not be recog- 
nised at the gates of heaven ; and finally a tax was substituted, 
of which the token of receipt was a coin stamped with a nose, 
mouth, moustaches, 4 and a bushy beard, and now throughout 
the ranks of nonconformity a shaven chin is nowhere to be 

We smile as we read these struggles of a great monarch with 
his people for such trivial objects, and as we read these reasons 
for the separation of a vast community from the Church of their 

1 Heretic, i. 43. 2 Strahl. 282. 

3 "They are continually dressing and combing it, and are veiy diligent in 
looking at themselves in their minors, of which one, if not two, is in every 
church." Macarius, i. 325. 

4 Life of Peter, 108. 

the Modern Church of Russia 369 

fathers. Yet it is but an extreme instance of the principle so 
dear to the natural ecclesiastical man ; the doctrine of keeping 
things exactly as they are. In themselves too the Rascolniks 
are historically interesting, as the likeness of the ancient Russian 
Church and society as seen before Peter and before Nicon. 
They are truly the "fossilised relics " of an earlier state. They are 
conservatives within conservatives ; orthodox with a superlative 
orthodoxy. Whatever memorials they can retain or win of 
their former heritage are to them beyond all price. If a sacred 
picture is missing from an ancient church, the suspicion always 
is that the Dissenters have stolen it. A Russian Prince being 
at Rome a few years ago, at the time when the city was agitated 
by the theft of the head of S. Andrew from St. Peter's, his 
Russian servant observed to him, with characteristic gravity, 
that no doubt it must have been carried off by a Rascolnik. 
The Czar is still to them an object of reverence, but it is the 
Czar as he appears in ancient pictures, not the modern Emperor. 
" I cannot take the oath of allegiance as you require," replied 
a Rascolnik soldier to his commanding officer ; " if you will 
allow me to take it to the real Czar, the White Czar, I will do 
it in a moment ; but not to him whom you call Imperator. In 
our sacred pictures and holy books we have the portrait of the 
true White Czar. He wears on his head a crown, on his 
shoulders a large gold-embroidered mantle, in his hands a 
sceptre and a globe. But your Emperor wears a uniform, a 
three-cornered hat, a sword by his side, like other soldiers. 
You see, I know what I am about." 1 

For a like reason the Patriarchal cathedral at Moscow, 
already so often mentioned, 2 is to them (though rarely entering 
its walls) a centre of devotion and reverence, even more than 
to the members of the Church itself. There all is old. No 
saint, no noted tomb is within those walls later than the fatal 
reforms -of Nicon. Demetrius of Rostoffand Metrophanes of 
Voronege, the latest saints of the Established Church, whose 
pictures have found a place in the adjacent cathedral of the 
Archangel, have not penetrated into the old Patriarchal 
cathedral itself. No false imitations of Raphael and Rubens, no 
fancies of Catharine II. or Alexander I., break the antique uni- 
formity of the paintings which cover the walls of that vener- 
able sanctuary. Therefore it still unites the affections both of 
the Establishment and of the Dissenters. Once a year, on the 

1 Haxthausen, i. 328. 2 Lectures X. and XI. 

37 Peter the Great and 

festival of Easter, they come to gaze upon it ; and then, in the 
open square in front of it, hold amicable discussions with their 
brethren of the Established Church. The controversy usually 
begins by remarks on the large fresco of the Apocalypse out- 
side the Cathedral. They are, as may be inferred from the 
comparisons before mentioned, careful students of the Reve- 
lation, and the picture naturally opens the whole question of 
the schism from Babylon, much as it might in Ireland between 
Orangemen and Roman Catholics. They argue, we are told, 
calmly but with much earnestness, and often with a remarkable 
knowledge of the words of Scripture, and of the decrees of the 
Seven Councils. A wilder portion of the sect, who specially revere 
the memory of Peter III., as a martyr for the customs of their 
forefathers, 1 believe that the day will come when the great bell 
of the Kremlin shall sound long and loud to the uttermost 
ends of Siberia, where, according to their belief, that Prince still 
survives, and whence he will come back to his own, and set up 
the true Church on the ruins of the reformed Establishment. 2 

The greater part of the Starovers are settled along the banks 
of the Volga, and amongst the Cossacks of the Don. But there 
are some hundreds at Moscow, who since the reign of Catharine 
II. have intrenched themselves in two or three large settlements 
on the outskirts of the city. Let us follow them thither. A 
visit to one such community will give us an adequate impression 
of all. Beyond the uttermost barrier of Moscow we find our- 
selves on the edge of the primeval forest, which here comes up 
almost to the town itself. An intricate road through lanes of 
gullies worthy of the days before the deluge of Peter's changes, 
brings us to a wild scattered village, the village of Preobajensk, 
or the " Transfiguration." It is celebrated as the spot to which 
Peter in his youth withdrew from Moscow, and formed out of 
his companions the nucleus of what has since become the 
Imperial Guard, who from this origin are called the Preoba- 
jensky regiment. But there is no vestige of Peter or the 
Imperial Guards in what now remains. A straggling lake 
extends itself right and left into the village, in which the 
Rascolniks baptise those who come over to them from the 
Established Church. On each side of it rise, out of the humble 
wooden cottages, 3 two large silk factories, the property of the 
chief amongst the Dissenters ; for they number amongst their 

1 Tooke's Catharine II., c. 8. 2 Haxthausen, i. 302. 

8 The settlement has been there since the great pestilence of 1771. 
Strahl, 322. 

the Modern Church of Russia 371 

members many merchants and manufacturers, and (as amongst 
the Quakers) there is a strong community of commercial 
interests in the sect which contributes much to its vitality, and 
maintains the general respectability of the whole body. Hard 
by, within the walls as of a fortress, two vast enclosures appear. 
These are their two main establishments one for men, the 
other for women. For in this respect also they exhibit a type 
of the ancient Russian life, in which, as we have before seen, 
the seclusion of the women was almost Oriental in its character. 
Within the establishment for men stand two buildings apart. 
The first is a church belonging to the moderate section of the 
Starovers ; those namely who retain still so much regard to the 
Established Church as to be willing to receive from them 
ordained priests. The clergy who seceded in the original 
movement of course soon died out, and henceforth the only 
way of supplying the want was by availing themselves of priests 
expelled from the Established Church for misconduct, and of 
late years they have been fortunate enough to secure from the 
Metropolitan of the Orthodox Greeks in Hungary 1 the loan of 
a Bishop, who has continued to them a succession of new 
priests. But there has been also an attempt on the part of the 
Government and the clergy to incorporate them to a certain 
extent, by allowing them a regular priest of the Establishment, 
who is permitted to conform to their usages ; and not long ago 
a considerable step was taken by the Metropolitan, who agreed 
to consecrate a part of the church never consecrated before, 
himself in some particulars, as in the order of the procession, 
adopting their peculiar customs. Even to this church of 
Occasional Conformists, as they may be called, the studious 
exclusion of all novelty gives an antique appearance, the more 
remarkable from its being in fact so new. Built in the reign of 
Catharine II., it yet has not a single feature that is not either 
old, or -an exact copy of what was old. The long meagre 
figures of the saints, the ancient form of benediction, the elabor- 
ately minute representations of the Sacred History, most of 
them collected by the richer Dissenters from family treasures or 
dissolved convents, are highly characteristic of the plus quam 
restoration of mediaeval times. The chant, too, at once carries 
one back two hundred years. The Church resounds, not with 
the melodious notes of modern Russian music, but with the 
nasal, almost Puritanical, screech which prevailed before the 

1 Christian Remembrancer, xxxv. 85. 

37 2 Peter the Great and 

time of Nicon, which is by them believed to be the "sole 
orthodox, harmonious, and angelical chant." l But the principle 
of the Old Believers admits of a more significant develop- 
ment. Within a stone's throw of the church which I have just 
described is a second building, nominally an almshouse or 
hospital for aged Dissenters, but, in fact, a refuge for the more 
extreme members of the sect, who, in their excessive wrath 
against the Reformed Establishment, have declined to receive 
even runaway priests from its altars, and yet, in their excessive 
adherence to traditional usage, have not ventured to consecrate 
any for themselves. As the moderate Rascolniks are called 
" Popofchins," 2 or "those with clergy," so these are called 
" Bezpopofchins," or " those without clergy." It is a division 
analogous to that of the Lutherans and Calvinists in Germany, 
of the Presbyterians and Independents in England. Accord- 
ingly, the service of these extreme Dissenters is conducted by 
laymen, just so far as, and no farther than, could be performed 
without an altar and without a priest Their only link with the 
National Church consists in their retention of a few particles of 
consecrated oil, and of consecrated elements, 3 preserved by 
constant dilution. The approaches of their milder brethren to 
the Establishment they regard, naturally, as a base compromise 
with Babylon. In many respects, the ritual of the two sects is 
the same. In both buildings alike we see the same gigantic 
faces, the same antique forms. But, unlike the chapel of the 
Popofchins, or any church of the Establishment, the screen on 
which these pictures hang, the iconostasis, is not a partition 
opening into a sanctuary beyond, but is the abrupt and undis- 
guised termination of the church itself. You advance, thinking 
to pass, as in the ordinary churches, through the painted screen 
to the altar, and you find that you are stopped by a dead wall. 
In front of this wall this screen which is not a screen (so let 

1 Haxthausen, iii. 118. 

2 See Palmer's Orthodox Communion, pp. 296-302. 

3 The rite of Confirmation in the Eastern Church, of which mention has 
already been made in Lecture I. p. 78, is administered, not as in the Roman 
Catholic and Anglican communions by Bishops, but as in the Lutheran by 
Presbyters. But, inasmuch as the essential part of this rite in the East con- 
sists, not in the imposition of hands, but in the chrism or anointing with the 
sacred oil, the derivation of the right from the episcopal order is still main- 
tained in the circumstance that the oil, afterwards distributed through the 
parishes of the diocese, is in the first instance consecrated by the Bishop. 
It is of this consecrated oil that the Rascolniks retain the portion described 
in the narrative. 

the Modern Church of Russia 373 

me describe the service which I there witnessed, on the eve of 
the anniversary of the Coronation) an aged layman, with a 
long sectarian beard, chanted in a cracked voice such fragments 
of the service as are usually performed by the deacon ; and 
from the body of the church a few scattered worshippers (their 
scantiness probably occasioned by the refusal of the sect to 
recognise the great State festival) screamed out the responses, 
bowing the head and signing the cross in their peculiar way as 
distinctly as so slight a difference will permit. That scanty con- 
gregation, venerable from their very eccentricity, that worship 
in the dim light of the truncated church, before the vacant wall 
which must constantly remind them of the loss of the very part 
of the ceremonial which they consider most essential, is the 
most signal triumph ever achieved by the letter that kills over 
the spirit that quickens ; a truly Judaic faith, united with a 
truly Judaic narrowness, such as no Western nation could hope 
to produce. It shows us the legitimate conclusion of those 
who insist on turning either forms, or the rejection of forms, 
into principles, and on carrying out principles so engendered to 
their full length. 

That the Russian Church, containing elements such as these, 
should have survived at all the shock of Peter's revolution, is a 
proof of no slight vitality. But, after the first convulsion was 
over, it became apparent that (taking them as a whole) the 
religious feelings and the religious institutions of the country 
had embraced the change, and moved along with it. Many of 
the clergy did for a time make a stiff resistance ; the unfortu- 
nate Alexis fell a victim to his intimacy with some of the 
disaffected Bishops ; the Old Believers broke out into open 
rebellion ; one of them attempted Peter's life ; some thousands 
of them, in the reign of the Empress Anne, intrenched them- 
selves in the convent fortress of Solovetsky, and died, fighting 
to the last gasp, like the remnant of the Jewish people in the 
war of independence. But they were, after all, only a section 
of the nation, only a small minority of the Church, condemned 
by the great mass of the national hierarchy. Like as they were 
in many respects to our Nonjurors, in this respect they were 
precisely opposite : the Nonjurors failed because they were a 
schism of clergy without laity ; the Old Believers failed because 
they were a schism of laity without clergy. Gradually the wild 
superstitions which even Nicon had not dared to touch gave 
way before the searching thrust of the Emperor. Pictures that 
wept on arriving at the inclement climate of St. Petersburg he 

374 Peter the Great and 

resolutely detected and destroyed. His last public act was to 
order the removal of many of the chapels and pictures in the 
streets of Petersburg, and the order was carried out in the pre- 
sence of the Holy Synod by the formal destruction of a sacred 
picture of S. Nicholas, Theophanes of Novgorod striking the 
first blow with his hatchet. 1 In the oath still taken by the 
Russian Bishops at their consecration occur these remarkable 
provisions introduced by him, and pledging the hierarchy for 
ever against both the pious frauds and the corrupt lassitude to 
which all ecclesiastical dignitaries are naturally tempted : 2 

" I promise and vow that I will not suffer the monks to run from 
convent to convent. I will not, for the sake of gain, build, or suffer 
to be built, superfluous churches, or ordain superfluous clergy. I 
promise yearly, or at least once in three years, to require on my 
visitations that there may be erected no tombs of spurious saints. 
Impostors who go about as possessed, with bare feet and in their 
shirts, I will give up to the civil authorities, that they may drive 
out the evil spirits from them with the knout. I will diligently en- 
deavour to search out and put down all impostures, whether lay or 
clerical, practised under show of devotion. I will provide that 
honour be paid to God only, not to the holy pictures, and that no 
false miracles be ascribed to them." 

, Promises such as these, introduced into the most sacred 
offices of the Church, must turn the face of its rulers, despite 
of themselves, in the direction which an ancient Establishment 
is slow to follow. Even Protestant Churches might have 
gained much had their bishops and ministers been bound by a 
like solemn pledge not to support spurious readings or false 
aids of the truth, not to honour popular impostors, not to give 
way to prejudice or clamour when raised under the name of 

How far Peter succeeded in his reforms without impairing 
the national faith, is a question which it would be presump- 
tuous to attempt to answer, unless with a greater knowledge 
than any foreigner can attain. But a few characteristic names 
emerge from the obscurity of the Russian hierarchy, which 
seem to justify the hope that the problem is not incap- 

1 Hermann, iv. 444. 

2 DasAusland, 1857, pp. 689-691. See Spiritual Regulations (Consett, 
29), which gives instances both of Christian and Pagan superstitions which 
are to be put down ; amongst others, the deification of Friday, under the 
name of Petnitza. " They are like snow-drifts stopping the passage of men 
in the right road to truth," (p. 30.) 

the Modern Church of Russia 375 

able of solution. Theophanes of Plescow, Metrophanes of 
Voronege, Demetrius of Rostoff, were the Cranmer, the Ridley, 
and the Latimer who assisted the Russian Henry in his 
arduous work, and who, whilst they earned the hatred of the 
Old Believers, have yet, at least in the two latter instances, 
won a reverent admiration from the hearts of the nation at 
large. 1 To Metrophanes is dedicated the chapel of the 
Russian monastery in Mount Athos. The tomb of Demetrius 
in the venerable church of Rostoff is contemned by the 
Dissenters, who cannot forgive the man that, when the 
Rascolniks said they would rather part with their heads than 
their beards, answered : " You had better not. God will make 
your beards grow again ; will he ever make your heads grow 
again ? " But by many a pilgrim the grave is visited as of a 
canonised saint, and no work is more popular in Russian 
cottages than his " Lives of the Russian Saints." 

Advancing to the next generation we arrive at Ambrose, 
Archbishop of Moscow. He was known for his learning, 
especially in Hebrew, of which he gave proof in a translation 
of the Psalter from the original. It is, however, in his death 
that we catch the clearest glimpse of the feeling of his time. 
Long before his appointment to the see of Moscow, he had 
been archimandrite of Nicon's beloved convent of the New 
Jerusalem. Amongst the many traces which there remain 
of his munificence is a suite of rooms threaded by a secret 
corridor which was constructed by him as a means of escape, 
in consequence of a presentiment that he should meet with a 
sudden and violent end. It remains as a singular monument 
of an anticipation strangely fulfilled. After his translation to 
Moscow, the city was ravaged by a frightful pestilence. 2 The 
people crowded to a sacred picture in such numbers as to 
endanger the public health. At the advice of the civic authori- 
ties, Ambrose ventured to remove it. 3 At once the religious 
feeling of the Russian populace, so terrible when really 
roused, was touched to the quick ; they rose in the same 
state of wild excitement as, within our time, was seen at St. 
Petersburg in the panic of the cholera. There was at Moscow 
no Nicholas to overawe them by his terrible presence. They 
rang a tocsin with the great bell of the ancient Novgorod, as it 
hung in its belfry by the Sacred Gate. The Archbishop fled 

1 For Theophanes, see Consett, p. 449. For Metrophanes, see Moura- 
vieff, 402. 

2 Strahl, 246. * Clarke's Travels, i. 100. 

376 Peter the Great and 

to the suburbs, and took refuge in the Donskoi Monastery. 
He was dragged out, and stabbed to the heart, it is said, by 
one of the Old Dissenters. " I send you the incident," writes 
the Empress Catharine in one of her letters to Voltaire, " that 
you may record it among your instances of the effects of 
fanaticism." We may repeat it here as a story characteristic, 
in all its points, of the Church and people of Russia. 

We pass on yet again a few years, and come to the name 
which alone perhaps in the Russian hierarchy has obtained 
a European celebrity, Plato, Archbishop, and afterwards 
Metropolitan, of Moscow. " What is the thing the best worth 
seeing in Russia?" "The Metropolitan Plato," answered the 
Emperor Joseph II., on his return from Petersburg to Vienna. 
Englishmen know him through his interviews with Dr. Clarke l 
and with Reginald Heber ; and the gay Italian-like retreat 
which he built for himself under the social name of Bethany, 
in the pleasant woods of the Troitza Convent, is at once a 
memorial and a type of the easy graceful character which in 
him appeared at the head of the once barbarian clergy of 
Moscow. We see him, as he sits on his garden bank, in his 
country dress and large straw hat, laughing heartily at the 
mistakes of Englishmen about the Russian ceremonies, and 
at their eagerness to see a worship which they could not under- 
stand. He was the favourite both of the civilised Catharine 
and, for a time, of her savage son. A portrait of him in the 
Bethany Convent represents him in his start of surprise when, 
by a device of the Empress Catharine, he heard suddenly in 
the service his name read as Metropolitan instead of Arch- 
bishop. Diderot came at her request to converse with him, 
and began his argument with "Non est Deus." Plato was 
ready with the instant retort, " Dixit stultus in corde suo, 
' Non est Deus.' " Of him too is told a story, sometimes 
given to a divine of our own. The Empress wished to put to 
the test his powers of extemporaneous preaching, and having 
told him that she wished to hear him read a sermon written by 
one of her chaplains, sent to him, as he mounted the platform 
for preaching, a blank sheet. He looked at it for an instant, 
and then began, " God created the world out of nothing," and 
preached on that theme a splendid sermon. He rebuked the 
madness of his pupil, the Emperor Paul, by refusing to receive 
at his hands a military decoration, and by opposing his inten- 

1 Clarke's Travels, i. 193-202. 

the Modern Church of Russia 377 

tion of officiating at divine 'service. In his last decline he 
sustained the spirit of the Emperor Alexander by his letter of 
encouragement in the terrible year of the French invasion. 
Approaching nearly to the character of a European prelate, he 
was yet a Russian in heart and faith, and as such is still 
honoured by the mass of his countrymen. 

And if now we arrive at our own time, and ask how the 
Russian Church has fared in the nineteenth century, let me 
name three instances which show that the most modern of our 
Western movements are not altogether without parallels there. 
Innocent, Archbishop of Kamtschatka, is to the Russian 
Church as the Bishop of New Zealand to our own, an example 
of the revived missionary spirit in their vast colonial empire. 
Not in canoes or steamers, but in reindeer sledges, he traverses 
to and fro the long chain of Pagan islands which unite the 
northern positions of the Asiatic and American continents, and 
has, it is said, brought many to the Christian faith. 

Philaret, the venerable Metropolitan of Moscow, 1 represents, 
in some measure at least, the effect of that vast wave of 
reactionary feeling which we sometimes associate exclusively 
with England, even with Oxford, and a few well-known names 
in Oxford, but which really has passed over the whole of 
Europe. As the gay retreat of "Bethany" brings before us 
the lively career of Plato, so the austere revival of mediaeval 
hermitages in those same woods of Troitza, under the name of 
" Gethsemane," brings before us the attenuated frame and 
serene countenance of the aged Philaret, the gentle and saint- 
like representative in Russia of opinions and practices which in 
England are too near ourselves to be described more closely. 

One third instance in conclusion. The celebrated German 
philosopher Schelling, conversing with a young Russian Prince 
who had come to Berlin to profit by his instructions, asked 
him whether he knew a famous professor in Russia whose 
name he mentioned, but of whom the Prince had never heard 
before. "Young man," said the old philosopher, you ought 
to be ashamed of yourself for coming to seek instruction in 

1 To Philaret was intrusted the important State secret of the will of 
Alexander I. He crowned both Nicholas and Alexander II. He is one 
of the first preachers of the present Church of Russia, and his striking 
manner renders his sermons impressive even to those who cannot follow 
the language. A volume of these has been translated into French. I am 
glad to have this opportunity of acknowledging his dignified courtesy and 
affability when I had the pleasure of seeing him in Moscow in 1857. 


Peter the Great and 

other countries, and not knowing what is to be found in your 
own. Of all men now living, there is no one else who has so 
well understood and expounded the philosophy which you have 
come here to study." The Prince returned, and lost no time 
in seeking the unknown prophet. He was found in the person 
of the parish priest of the village of Troitza, also discharging 
the duties of Professor of Philosophy in the adjacent monastery. 
In that monastery, the Oxford of Russia, Theodore Golobensky 
lived and died, a master of all the recent forms of German 
thought and speculation, yet esteemed and revered by all as an 
illustrious ornament of the Orthodox Church. 1 Reserved in 
manner and speech, never leaving his retirement, he yet has 
left behind him a circle of enthusiastic disciples, whose eyes 
flash and whose cheeks glow when they speak of him, and who 
still in their own way communicate his methods of instruction. 
"Cicero," he used to say, "maintains that there is no system 
of philosophy which is not based on some fundamental 
absurdity. I maintain, on the other hand, that there is no 
widely propagated error which is not based on some funda- 
mental truth. See the point of view from which any error has 
arisen. Then, and then only, will you understand it." 

I have thus glanced at some of the leading characters of the 
modem Church of Russia, and of its existing tendencies. They 

1 I speak partly from Haxthausen, i. 63, partly from what I heard myself. 
I cannot leave this part of the subject without a word on those remarkable 
essays to which, under the name of " Quelques Mots par un Chretien 
Orthodoxe," I have so often referred, and to which the Letters of " Ignotus" 
in the Union Chretienne, 1860, Nos. 30, 33, 36, 37, 41, 42, may be added. 
It is with much regret that I have learned, since writing the above, that 
their author's premature death in the course of last year has cut off all hope 
of confirming, by personal acquaintance, the impression left by his writings, 
and by the description of all who had ever conversed with him. M. 
Chamiakoff was a poet of an ardent temperament, and devoted to the 
ancient Orthodox traditions, which he regarded as the inestimable treasure 
of the Russian Church and nation. But, of all the peculiarities of his 
writings, none is more striking than the manner in which he united this 
devotion to his ancestral belief with a fearless spirit of inquiry both into 
ecclesiastical and sacred records. He was fully versed in German theology. 
His admiration of the character and learning of the late lamented Baron 
Bunsen was profound. He himself entered freely into the difficulties 
raised of late by Biblical criticism. Yet he never wavered in his faith and 
practice as an " Orthodox Christian." " Are you not afraid of these German 
speculations ? " was the question put by an English traveller to another 
Russian layman, equally devout and sincere. "Not for a moment," was 
the reply. " We have a singular gift of comprehending the ideas of others, 
and of amalgamating them with our own firm belief. I fear nothing, so 
long as we are true to ourselves." 

the Modern Church of Russia 379 

will be enough to show that its inherent life has neither been 
choked by its own tenacity of ancient forms, nor strangled by 
the violence of Peter's changes. But what its future will be, 
who shall venture to conjecture ? Will it be able now, in these 
its latter days, to cease from foreign imitations, Eastern or 
Western, and develope an original genius and spirit of its own ? 
Will it venture, still retaining its elaborate forms of ritual, to 
use them as vehicles of true spiritual and moral edification for 
its people ? Will it aspire, preserving the religious energy of 
its national faith, to turn that energy into the channel of 
practical social life, so as to cleanse, with overwhelming force, 
the corruption and vice of its higher ranks, the deceit and rude 
intemperance of its middle and lower classes? The Russian 
clergy, as they recite the Nicene Creed in the Communion, 
embrace each other with a fraternal kiss, in order to remind 
themselves and the congregation that the Orthodox Faith is 
never to be disjoined from Apostolical Charity. Is there a 
hope that this noble thought may be more adequately repre- 
sented in their ecclesiastical development than it has been in 
ours ? Will Russia exhibit to the world the sight of a Church 
and people understanding, receiving, fostering, the progress of 
new ideas, foreign learning, free inquiry, not as the destruction, 
but as the fulfilment, of religious belief and devotion ? Will 
the Churches of the West find that, in the greatest National 
Church now existing in the world, there is still a principle of 
life at work, at once more steadfast, more liberal, and more 
pacific, than has hitherto been produced either by the uni- 
formity of Rome, or the sects of Protestantism? 

On the answer to these questions will depend the future 
history, not only of the Russian Church and Empire, but of 
Eastern Christendom, and, in a considerable measure, of 
Western ^Christendom also. The last word of Peter, struggling 
between life and death, was, as has been already described, 
Hereafter. What more awful sense the word may have 
expressed to him, we know not. Yet it is not beneath the 
solemnity of that hour to imagine that even then his thoughts 
leaped forward into the unknown future of his beloved Russia ; 
and to us, however curious its past history, a far deeper interest 
is bound up in that one word, which we may, without fear, 
transfer from the expiring Emperor to the Empire and the 
Church which he had renewed, " HEREAFTER." 








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In ^the following Table I have given the chief events in the history of 
the Eastern Church. The references, where necessary, have been made 
to such works as, in each case, contained the most precise and copious 
statement of the original authorities. 

Early Period. 

33 VA11 the early Churches, except those of North Africa, belong, in 

to Y the first instance, to the Eastern Church : Jerusalem, Antioch, 

100. J Alexandria, Ephesus, and even those of Rome and Gaul. The 

only Apostles, whose missions, by legend or history, extend to 

the West, are S. Peter and S. Paul. 

Legends of the foundation of the more remote Eastern Churches, 

of Edessa by S. Thaddeus, and of India by S. Thomas. 
135. Change of the see of Jerusalem into the see of ^Elia Capitolina. 

10 I Catechetical school of Alexandria. Panteenus, f 180. Clemens, 

254. J t213 ' Ori g en >t254. 

260. Sabellius in Egypt. 

269. Council of Antioch condemns the Homoousion and the doctrines of 

Paul of Samosata. 

302. Foundation of the Church of Armenia. 
306. Melitian schism in Egypt. 
309. Antony in Egypt (founder of Monachism). 
312. Conversion of Constant ine. 

Foundation of Eastern Empire. Period of the Councils. 

315. Eusebius of Csesarea. f cir. 342. 
318. Arius in Egypt. 

Foundation of the Church of Georgia, or Iberia, by Nina. 

(Wiltzch's Geography of the Church, 244.) 
325. Council of Nicaa [First General]. 

325. Condemnation of Arians and Melitians ; settlement of the Paschal 

Jacob of Nisibis. t 350 [according to others 338 at the former 

siege of Nisibis]. 
Athanasius. f 373. 

326. Foundation of the Church of Abyssinia. Pilgrimage of Helena to 


330. Foundation of Constantinople. 
336. Dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 
338 \ Death of Constantine. Athanasian controversy ; the West Ortho- 
to \ dox under Constans, the East Arian or Semi-Arian under 
360. J Constantius. 

341. Consecration of Ulfilas, Apostle of the Goths, f 388. 


Chronological Table 383 


362. Council of Alexandria avoids the division of Hypostasis and Ousia. 

355. Basil (of Csesarea). f 378. 

Ephrem Syrus (of Edessa). f 378. 

351. Cyril (of Jerusalem), t 386. 

360. Gregory (Nazianzen). f 389. 

370. Gregory (of Nyssa). t 395- 

379. Theodosius, Emperor, t 395- 

Suppression of Paganism in the East. 

381. Council of Constantinople [Second General]. Close of Arian Con- 
troversy in the Eastern Church. Condemnation of Macedonius 
and Apollinarius. Elevation of the Bishop of Constantinople to 
the second rank, after next Bishop of Rome. Additions to the 
Nicene Creed (?). 

385. Controversy on the opinions of Origen, raised by Theophilus of 

367. Epiphanius. 1 403. 

390. Chrysostom. f 407. 

391. Destruction of the Temple of Serapis at Alexandria. 
410. Theodore (of Mopsuestia). f 429. 

431. Council of Ephesus [Third General]. Condemnation of Nestorians, 

and of Ccelestius and Pelagius [but as followers of Nestorius]. 
Prohibition of any new Creed. 

432. Separation of Nestorian Churches (in Chaldsea and India). 

415. Cassian (the semi- Pelagian) of Bethlehem and Marseilles, f 435. 

412. Cyril (of Alexandria). t 444 

447. Legend of the Seven Sleepers. (Gibbon, c. 33.) 

449. Second Council of Ephesus (Latrocinium) supports Eutyches. 

451. Council of Chalcedon [Fourth General]. Condemnation of Eutyches. 

Promulgation of Nicene Creed in its present form. Recognition 

of the five patriarchs : of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, 

Antioch, and Jerusalem. 
440. Theodoret. 1 456. 

cir. \ First collection of Greek ecclesiastical law under the name of 
460. / "Apostolic Canons." 

Foundation of the Monastery of Studius at Constantinople. 

(Evagrius, ii. II.) 
461. Simeon Stylites (the Elder), t 461. 

Separation of the Monophysite Churches of Egypt, Syria, and 

Armenia from the Church of Constantinople. (Gieseler, 2nd 

Period, ii. c. 2.) 

cir. \ Dionysius the Areopagite (spurious writings of). (Gieseler, 2nd 
460. / Period, ii. c. 2.) 
>2. Henoticon of the Emperor Zeno [an attempt to reconcile the 

Orthodox and the Monophysites]. (Gieseler, ibid. ; Gibbon, 

c. 47.) 

Timotheus ("the Cat") at Alexandria. (Gieseler, ibid.) 
Peter (the Fuller), at Antioch (Gieseler, ibid.), introduced the 

formula "God was crucified." 
491. Act of toleration for the Monophysites by the Emperor Anastasius. 
518. Repeal of the Henoticon by the Emperor Jtistin I. (Gieseler, 2nd 

Period, ii. c. 2. ) 
527. Justinian, Emperor. (Gibbon, c. 45.) f 565. 

384 Chronological Table 


527. Foundation of the Convent and Archbishopric of Mount Sinai. 

(Robinson's Biblical Researches, i. 184.) 
529. Close of the schools of Athens, and extinction of the Platonic 

theology. (Gibbon, c. 40.) 
532. Building of the Church of S. Sophia. 

544. Edict of Justinian condemning Origen and the "Three Chapters" 

(i. e. the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Ibas of Edessa, 
and Theodoret). (Gieseler, ibid.) 

545. Organisation of the Monophysite Churches of Syria and Meso- 

potamia by Jacobus Zanzalus or Baraddus of Edessa (f 57^)> 
hence the name of Jacobites. (Gieseler, ibid. ) 
Monophysites in Arabia. (Ibid.) 
Nubians converted by the Coptic Church. (Ibid. c. 6.) 

553. Second Council of Constantinople [Fifth General]. Confirmation of 
the Edict of Justinian. 

570. Birth of Mahomet. 

587. John (the Faster), Patriarch of Constantinople, assumes the title of 
CEcumenical Patriarch against the remonstrances of Gregory the 
Great. (Gieseler, ii. 2, 3 ; Gibbon, c. 45.) 

589. Third Council of Toledo. Extinction of Arianism in Spain. 
Adoption of the Nicene or Constantinopolitan Creed into the 
Western Liturgy. Insertion of the words "Filioque." Begin- 
ning of the rupture between the Eastern and Western Churches, 
on the Procession of the Holy Ghost. (Robertson, vol. ii. I, 7-) 
Formal separation of the Armenian Church from Constantinople, at 
the Council of Dwin. 

565. The collection of Canons of the Councils, by John Scholasticus 
(t 578), combined with the ecclesiastical laws of Justinian, and 
formed into the ecclesiastical code of the Greek Church under the 
name of Nomo-Canon. 

6 1 6. Rise of Monothelite Heresy in Syria ; supported by Sergius, Patri- 
arch of Constantinople, and Pope Honorius. (Gieseler, ii. 3, 2 ; 
Robertson, vol. ii. i, 2.) 

Struggle with Mahometanism. 

622. Flight of Mahomet to Medina. (Hegira.) 

628. Reconquest of Jerusalem from the Persians by the Emperor 

Heraclius. Institution of the Festival of the Cross, Sept. 14. 

(Gieseler, ii. 3, i.) 
632. Death of Mahomet. 
634. Conquest of Syria by Omar. 

636 \ Nestorian Missions as far as India and China. (Gieseler, ii. 2, 6 ; 
to f Robertson, vol. ii. I, 8.) 
781.] Theological College at Nisibis. (Ibid.) 

638. "Ecthesis" of Heraclius. (Gieseler, ii. 3, 2.) ] Q Monothe ] ite 
640. Conquest of Egypt by Amrou. f controversv 

648. " Type" of Constans II. (Gieseler, ii. 3, 2.) J controversy. 
651. Conquest of Persia by Othman. 
660. Death of AH, and schism of the Shiahs. 

Chronological Table 385 


660. Foundation of the Paulician sect in Armenia by Constantine (f 684). 
(Robertson, vol. ii. I, 8.) 

668. Theodore of Tarsus (the Greek), Archbishop of Canterbury, first 
organiser of the English Church. (Robertson, vol. ii. 1,3; 
Gieseler, ii. 3, 3.) 

676. Foundation of the Maronites by Maro (f 707). (Gieseler, ii. 3, 2 ; 
Robertson, vol. ii. I, 2.) 

680. Third Council of Constantinople [Sixth General]. Condemnation 
of the Monothelites and of Pope Honorius. (Robertson, vol. 
ii. i, 2.) 

690. Persecution of the Paulicians. (Robertson, vol. ii. I, 8.) 

692. Council "in Trullo" (in the vaulted chamber at Constantinople), 
called 'Quinisextum, or irevTe'/m? ; as completing the Fifth and 
Sixth General Councils on ecclesiastical regulations. The present 
restrictions on the marriage of the Eastern clergy established ; 
i. e. no marriage to take place after ordination, and no Bishop to 
be married. This is the first Eastern Council repudiated by the 
West. (Gieseler, ii. 3, 2; Robertson, vol. ii. I, 2. I, 9.) 

707. Conquest of North Africa by the Arabs. 

712. Conquest of Spain. 

Iconoclastic Controversy* 

726. Beginning of the Iconoclastic controversy by the Edict of Leo 


John of Damascus (Chrysorrhoas, Mansur), the last Greek Father, 
chief theologian of the East and supporter of the sacred pictures, 
t 760. (Gieseler, iii. i, i ; Robertson, vol. ii. i, 4.) 

730. Annexation (by Leo Isauricus) of Calabria, Sicily, and Illyricum to 
the Patriarchate of Constantinople. 

732. Final repulse of the Mussulmans from the West by Charles Martel. 

754. Fourth Council of Constantinople. Condemnation of sacred pictures. 
(Gieseler, iii. i, i.) 

787. Second Council of Niccca [Seventh General]. Sanction of the 
veneration of sacred pictures. Its decrees condemned by Charle- 
magne in the Council of Frankfort (790). (Robertson, vol. ii. 
I, 7.) (Its oecumenical character is well discussed in Neale, 
Introd. ii. 132.) 

790. Theodore Studita, defender of the sacred pictures, t 826. 

791. The ** Fttioqite" inserted in the Creed at the Council of Friuli. 

(Robertson, vol. ii. I, 7.) 
809. The " Filioque" inserted at the Council of Aix la Chapelle. 

(Gieseler, iii. I, 2; Robertson, 'vol. ii. I, 7.) 
Athanasian Creed 'now first appears in France. (Ibid.) 
815. Pictures again suppressed. (Robertson, ii. 2, I.) 
835. Spread of the Paulicians into Asia Minor. Cruel persecution of 

them by Theodora. (Gibbon, cap. 54.) 
842. Pictures again sanctioned. Orthodox Sunday instituted. (Robertson, 

vol. ii. 2, i.) 
848. Preaching of Constantine (Cyril) among the Khozars (Crimea). 

(Robertson, vol. ii. 2, 4 ; Gieseler, iii. 2, 2, note c.} 


386 Chronological Table 


858. Photius^ the chief theologian of the East (t 891), appointed 
Patriarch of Constantinople [by Csesar Bardas, regent during 
the minority of Michael III.] in the place of Ignatius (t 878), 
who is supported by Pope Nicholas I. (Robertson, vol. ii. 2, 3 ; 
Gieseler, iii. 2, 2.) 

Conversion of Sclavonic Tribes ', and Struggle with See of Rome. 

858. Restoration of heathen literature by Caesar Bardas. (Hallam, 

Middle Ages, c. ix. pt. 2; Gibbon, c. 53.) 

860. Foundation of the Churches of Bulgaria and Moravia by Constan- 
tine (Cyril) (t 868) and Methodius (t 900), from Constantinople. 
(Robertson, vol. ii. 2, 3; Gieseler, iii. 2, I.) 
Bogoris baptised. (Robertson, vol. ii. 2, 3.) 
862. Invention or improvement of Sclavonic alphabet by Cyril and 

Methodius. (Robertson, vol. ii. 2, 4.) 
Foundation of Russian Empire by Ruric. 

866. First Russian expedition to Constantinople. Baptism of Oskold 

and Dir. 

Photius endeavours to reunite the Armenian with the Orthodox 

867. Photius, in Council at Constantinople, deposes and excommunicates 

the Pope. The acts of this Council are annulled in a Council 
at Rome, and a Council at Constantinople, called by the Latin 
Church the Eighth General Council (but not acknowledged by 
the Eastern Church), by which Photius is anathematised. The 
controversy is embroiled by the rival claims of Constantinople 
(through both Photius and Ignatius) and of Rome to the newly 
converted kingdom of Bulgaria. (Robertson, vol. ii. 2, 3, &c.) 

870. Conversion of heathen Sclavonians and Mainotes in Greece. 

(Gieseler, iii. 2, 2.) 

871. Temporary conversion of Bohemia by Methodius. (Robertson, 

vol. ii. 2, 4; Gieseler, iii. 2, I.) 

878. Photius, on Ignatius's death, restored to the Patriarchate. (Robert- 

son, vol. ii. 2, 3.) 

879. A Council at Constantinople reverses that of 867. (Robertson, 

vol. ii. 2, 3.) _ 

880. Use of Sclavonic in Church services. (Robertson, vol. ii. 2, 3 ; 

Gieseler, iii. 2, I.) 

883. Mission of Alfred to the Christians of S. Thomas. (Gibbon, c. 47.) 
886. Photius is deposed by Leo (the Wise) ; t dies in exile, 891. 

(Robertson, vol. ii. 2, 3.) 
The Macedonian Emperors, Basil, Leo, Alexander, Constantine, 

(Porphyrogennetos), favour learning. 
Bibliotheca of Photius. (Gieseler, iii. 2, 2.) Lives of the Saints, 


by Symeon Metaphrastes of Constantinople (t 975), Annals of 
Alexandria, by Eutychius of Alexandria (t 940), commentary by 
CEcumenius (950), Symeon Theologus (of Constantinople) (990). 
(Gieseler, iii. 2, 2; Gibbon, c. 53.) 

Description of the Empire, by Constantine (Porphyrogennetos). 
(Gibbon, c. 53. ) 

Chronological Table 387 


955. Conversion of the Russian Princess Olga. (Robertson, vol. ii. 2. 7.) 

9 ^3 1 Annexation of Naples and Sicily to the Greek Empire by Nice- 
j phorus and John Zimisces. (Gibbon, c. 52.) 

976. Settlement of the Paulicians in Bulgaria and at Philippopolis, whence 
they spread into Europe. (Gibbon, c. 54 ; and Gieseler, iii. 2, 3.) 

988. Conversion of Vladimir ; and foundation of the Church of Russia. 

(Robertson, vol. ii. 2, 7; Gieseler, iii. 2, 2.) 

Controversy respecting the use of leavened bread by the Eastern, 
and of unleavened by the Western, Church. (Robertson, vol. 

". 3 !) 

1018. Bulgaria finally annexed to the Byzantine Empire. (Robertson, 
vol. ii. 3, ad fin.} 

1020. Michael Psellus (the younger), "the Prince of Philosophers." 
t noi. (Gieseler, iii. 3, Appendix I.) 

1050. Invasion of the Greek Empire by the Seljukian Turks. (Robert- 
son, vol. ii. 2, 4. ) 

1054. The Greek provinces of Apulia, on their annexation by the Normans 
to the see of Rome, are warned in a pastoral letter of Michael 
Cerularius (Patriarch of Constantinople) against the practices of 
the Latin Church. Excommunication by the Pope laid on the 
altar of S. Sophia (i6th July), and answered by Michael. Final 
rupture between Eastern and Western Churches, (Robertson, 
vol. ii. 3, i.) 


1065. Conquest of Armenia and Georgia by the Turks. (Gibbon, c. 57.) 
1074. Conquest of Asia Minor. 
1076. Conquest of Jerusalem. (Ibid.) 

1089. S. David III., King of Georgia. Flourishing period of the 
Georgian Church. (Neale, i. 63.) 

9 ' I Passage of the Latins in the first, second, and third Crusades 
1180 f throu gh the Creek Empire. (Gibbon, cc. 58, 59.) 
1096. Occupation of the Holy Places of Palestine by the Latins. 
1070. Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, commentator, t 1112. 
Euthymius (Zigabenus), of Constantinople, t 1118. 
Nicetus (Acominatus), historian and theologian, t 1216. (Gieseler, 

iii. 3, Appendix I.) 
1182, Maronites join the Latin Church. (Robertson, vol. ii. 3, 2; 

Gieseler, iii. 3, Appendix I. and note.) 

Council of Bari: called to consider the relations of the Latin 
Church to the Greeks of Apulia. Anselm present, hence his 
treatise " De Processione S. Spirittts. Contra Grcecos." 
1180. Theodore Bahamen. t 1204. (Gieseler, iii. 3, Appendix I.) 
1190. Eustathius of Thessalonica. t 1198. Commentary on the Iliad. 

Favourite of the Conmeni. 

1204. Fourth Crusade. Occupation of Constantinople by the Latins. 
(Gibbon, c. 60.) Decline of the Greek language and literature. 
(See Hallam, Middle Ages, c. ix. part 2.) . 

388 Chronological Table 


1204. Greek Emperors retire to Nicsea. 

1240. Invasion of Russia by the Tartars. 

1261. Constantinople recovered by the Greeks under Michael Palaeologus. 

(Gibbon, cc. 61, 62; Gieseler, iii. 3, Appendix I.) 

1240. Rise of the Ottoman Turks. (Gibbon, c. 64.) 

1270. Last Crusade. 

Final Struggle with Rome, and with Mahometanism. 

1260. Thomas Aquinas. Opusc. contra Grizcos, (Gieseler, ibid.) 

1274. Temporary reconciliation between the Emperor Michael and Pope 

Martin IV. (Gibbon, c. 62 ; Gieseler, iii. 3, Appendix I.) 
1260. Abulpharagius, historian, Jacobite Patriarch of the East, f 1286. 

1291. Expulsion of Latins from Constantinople. 

1292. Armenians reconciled for a time to the Latin Church. (Gieseler, 

iii. 4, Appendix II.) 
1300. S. Stephen Dushan, King of Servia. Patriarchate of Servia. 

(Neale, i. 70.) 

Ebed-Jesus, Nestorian Theologian of Nisibis. f 1318. 
1320. Conquest of Asia Minor by the Ottoman Turks. 
1339. Attempt of the Greek Emperors to effect a reconciliation with the 

Popes. (Gibbon, c. 66.) 

1341. Passage of the Ottomans into Europe. (Ibid. c. 64.) 
1341 ] Controversy on the uncreated light of Tabor. (Ibid.) 

to > Barlaam condemned, joins the Latin Church. (Gieseler, iii. 4, 
1351.] Appendix I.) 

Barlaam, friend of Petrarch, and first restorer of Homer to the 

West. (Gibbon, c. 66.) 

1363. Leo Pilatus friend of Boccaccio. (Gibbon, c. 66.) 
1396. Battle of Nicopolis. Defeat of Christians by Bajazet. (Gibbon, 

c. 64.) 
The Emperor Manuel visits France and England. (Gibbon, 

c. 66.) 

1415. Manuel Chrysoloras. (t at Constance.) (Gibbon, ibid.) 
Theodore Gaza. (Ibid.) 
Demetrius Chalcondyles. (Ibid.) 
1450. George of Trebizond. t 1486. (Ibid.) 

John of Argyropulus. (Ibid.) 

1420. Nicephorus, author of Ecclesiastical History, t 1450. 
1438. The Emperor John Palseologus visits Italy to effect a reunion. 

Council of Ferrara, Florence. (Gibbon, c. 66.) 
1440. Isidore of Moscow. Bessarion of Nice. Mark of Ephesus. 

Reunion (July 6th) dissolved at Constantinople and Moscow. 

(Gibbon, cc. 66, 67.) 
1444. Nov. 10. Victory of the Turks over the Hungarians and the 

Greeks at Varna. (Gibbon, c. 67.) 
1453. May 29. Capture of Constantinople, and fall of the Greek Empire. 

(Gibbon, c. 68.) 

Gennadius, last independent Patriarch. Abdicated 1459. 
[477. Expulsion of Tartars from Russia. 

Chronological Table 389 

Modern Condition of the Eastern Church. 


15251550. Portuguese mission to Abyssinia. (Gibbon, c. 47.) 

1559 1632. Jesuit mission to Abyssinia. (Ibid.) 

1599 1663. Portuguese mission to Christians of S. Thomas. (Gibbon, 
c. 47.) 

1582. Patriarchate of Moscow established by Jeremiah, Patriarch of 
Constantinople. (Mouravieff, c. 6.) 

1590. " Uniats," or Catholic Greeks of Poland. (Neale, i. 56.) 

1600. Cyril Ltuar, Greek Patriarch of Alexandria (1602.) Adopts 
Protestant views (1612). Corresponds with Archbishop Abbot 
(1616). Patriarch of Constantinople (1621). Corresponds with 
Archbishop Laud (1627). Presents the Alexandrian MS. to 
Charles I. (1628), Murdered (1638). (Neale, Alex. Church, 
ii. 356-45 6 -) 

1613. Expulsion of Poles from Russia. 

1642. Council of Jassy (or Constantinople). Condemnation of Cyril 
Lucar. " Orthodox confession of Peter Mogila." 

1672. Council of Bethlehem. Condemnation of Calvinism. 

1679. Migration of the Greeks of Servia under Arsenius Tchernovitch, 
Metropolitan of Servia, into Hungary, and establishment at 
Carlovitz. (Christian Remembrancer, xxxv. 35.) 

1764. Patriarchate of Moscow suppressed. 

1765. Patriarchate of Servia suppressed